Friday, 21 June 2019
You stare in disbelief at his phone, you still tell yourself it is a dream. A bad dream that you'd wake up from.
You read through the chats and tears roll down your cheeks. You do not bother wiping your face because your tear glands would only keep producing more tears. They seem to have a mind of their own now, a mind that instructs them to keep the tears flowing.
As you feel the torrent of tears, you shrug. It is what pain does, it leaves you helpless over certain emotions.
As you peruse the chats, your mind drifts to the day when you first saw and held him in your arms. On that day you realized that you'd gotten the definition of love wrong all along. On that day you knew you had found the one you would bleed and die for. And you did bleed on that day.
The day he made you a mother and you learned what it truly means to love.
You see his face now, your first seed and you wonder when and where you missed it. How did you not see the signs? Or weren't there signs?
"When did he lose it?"
You sob as you ask no one in particular.
What you do not know is that he didn't lose it in one day, it was a gradual process. A slow fade.
You recall the first day you dropped him off at school. He cried so much and the teachers said he was a fussy child. You were embarrassed because you wanted him to act like a boy and boys do not just cry but you forgot he was only a baby. A baby does what babies do, cry to express displeasure, pain and host of other emotions. And boys cry too.
You also recall the times he clung to you as you went about your chores. You would shove him and urge him to go play. He would go after failed attempts to get your attention. You thought he was learning independence but now you wish you had held him even if for just a few minutes on those days.
You had bought him exotic toys and even had a small car customised for him. You were willing to give him what you lacked as a child - money and the things it can buy. But you forgot to give him what you didn't lack, the affirmation of love and reinforcement of his self worth.
You recall the day he showed you his paintings, his eyes glistened as he said he wanted to be an artist when he grew up. You reminded him that he would someday run his father's business, he would employ artists and not be one.
You watched him grow into a fine young man. He had his Dad's handsome face but everyone said he was a bit aloof and cocky, like you. You didn't kow that underneath the cocky posterior was a young man begging to be heard and loved.
You and his father had his life planned out and gave little room for him to voice his thoughts or preferences. It was the best for him- or so you both thought.
You recall when he first told you he was in love. He seemed smitten, almost drunk. His eyes lit up when he talked about her, she was the prettiest girl in his class.
You thought he was just happy and in love, you even told his dad he was in love and really happy.
You didn't know that beyond happiness and love, he was holding on to the first woman who gave him attention and made him feel special.
Those were the words in his chat with her as he expressed his love to her. You recall the times you could have hugged him, held him, looked him in the face to let him know you saw him, validated his strengths, extolled his virtues but there was always a meeting, project, course, presentation and your role as mother and wife getting in the way.
You never had anyone dote on you as a child and you turned out fine.
Today as you stare at the chat, you sob heavily. Your little boy was begging for attention from a girl who didn't want him anymore. He told her he would not be able to make it if the only woman who has shown him attention left him.
Why didn't he speak up? Why didn't he talk to you? How would he give so much power to another human being? How did you raise an emotionally and mentally unstable young man?
Questions arise in your head but all you can do is cry because now all you have are memories of your baby boy who took his own life because he was heartbroken.
And you blame yourself because you were too busy trying to care and provide for that you forgot to just love and be grateful for the boy who taught you what it means to love.
Thursday, 6 June 2019
You stay seated as the speaker asks if anyone else is against abortion and is not yet standing.
As he counts those standing because they are against abortion, you imagine that in a not so distant past, you too would have been standing.
He paints scenarios to those standing asking that they seat if they thought abortion would be okay in those situations.
Some seat and others remain standing because for them even if a daughter is raped and impregnated by her father an abortion is still impermissible. Some people protest because they think those standing against abortion no matter what are being unrealistic.
Some seat and others remain standing because for them even if a daughter is raped and impregnated by her father an abortion is still impermissible. Some people protest because they think those standing against abortion no matter what are being unrealistic.
You watch and you smile because now you know better.
You know better than to judge them for their choices but more importantly you know better than to insist on a right or wrong way to do things.
You have experienced and learned enough to realize that life isn't always in black and white, there are grey areas in-between. Grey areas that may not make sense to you and may hurt your sensibilities but that should be taken into cognizance and tolerated as a mark of respect for other people's humanity.
You have learned that there is always a better way of doing things, of being, of living.
You are now open to opposing views without letting them colour your opinion.
You are now learning not to demean people when you cannot convince them.
You are learning to pay attention as you have learned that it is also a form of kindness. Letting people know that you see them.
You are learning that sometimes saying 'hello' or 'good morning' matters a lot in a world where people take pride in 'not caring' about or knowing their neighbours.
You are becoming deliberate in making friends because you realize that being too busy working to have time for others is not cool or wise because there are hollows that success will not fill.
You are learning to say 'thank you' and 'I'm sorry' because you are learning that it is a mark of true confidence to accept that you need help and can be wrong.
You now gravitate more towards people with whom you do not feel the need to put up an act. People who appreciate the journey you have undertaken to be the person you are and appreciate that more than who you are now, who you are becoming matters too.
People who reside in their truth while striving to be better.
You are learning to be family with those who are not your kin or related to you by blood.
You are opening up to more, now more than ever ready to receive all that life offers.
You are learning to compliment people more without questioning your own attractiveness.
You are learning to be proud of all you have achieved as you remind yourself that better is possible and that everything good will come.
You are learning to see the beauty in variety. You feel freer and better now because you have accepted that no one person knows or has it all.
Most importantly you have come to realize that if one is open and willing they would find that there are better ways of loving, fighting, correcting, convincing...of being beautiful...of making love.
You drift to the present as the argument about abortions, ethics, right and wrong is presented and you smile because you have learned that even when you are convinced of your correctness, there is always a better way of doing and being without compromising.
Wednesday, 5 June 2019
To yawn with your mouth open forgetting the simple courtesy of covering your mouth, to make slurps and have your throat gurgle as you drink and swallow because you do not really have control over how your throat accepts the liquid, to fall asleep after a long day too tired to even bath or eat, this is what it means to be human.
To not have the power to control certain reflexes like crying when you really want to be strong or letting them hold you for longer than usual because having another human hold you gives a certain reassurance that you are not alone, this is what it means to be human.
To look a loved one in the face and tell them a lie because you think the truth would hurt, to chide yourself for lying to them but still keeping shut and withholding the truth. To say 'I'm fine' because you fear that appearing vulnerable would be giving away your power, to burst into laughter at times when you are expected to be serious or empathetic because what you have just heard or witnessed is really funny, this is what it means to be human.
To have days where you look at the person(s) who look up to you, throw your hands in the air say 'I do not know what to say or do'.
To feel ashamed, embarrassed, hurt, befuddled, confused, despondent, unhappy and angry, is to be human.
To be human is to be a lot of things and if you live long enough, you will realize that it involves accepting other people's choice/preference even when it makes no sense to you.
To be human is accept that you think thoughts you would be too embarrassed to share with anyone and even do things you have criticized. To think you might not measure up, fit in, stand out, be accepted, achieve your goals, make a difference, is to be human.
To forge on in spite of your fears trusting that come what may you would be fine, to try one more time while nursing the bruises sustained from your last fall, to wake up everyday telling yourself 'today is the day it will turn around', to not give up against the odds, to block out the voices of naysayers, is to be a better human.
To give yourself the chance to grow, learn from your mistakes, accept chastisement, be grateful to those who choose you in spite of your shortcomings, is to be a better human.
To let yourself feel joy, love, pain, disgust and discontent. To accept betrayal, disappointment and failure without losing faith in yourself and humanity. To own your beauty, intelligence, sexiness, flaws and your story.
To know that you are on a journey designed for you, on a path custom made to lead you to the place for you. To be able to after a long day, heave a sigh at dusk and retire with hope and gratitude in your heart, is to be the best human you can be.
Friday, 8 March 2019
You watch as he is taken away in the Black Maria and for the first time since his ordeal began you break down in tears.
Your mother holds you and tries to console you but you are inconsolable. What started like a scene from a movie has metamorphosed into a night mare. Daniel your husband of 9 years has been taken away in detention to a prison hundreds of miles away from home. All of a sudden, you feel alone in the world.
You go back to your mother's house as the house you called home has been confiscated along side your cars and Daniel's other properties. All you have are the jewelry you hid, your designer bags, shoes and clothes, and your two children, Crystal who is 8 and Ella who is 3 years old.
Your mother sits you down the next day to remind you that the party is over, everything has changed and there's no time to grieve. Daniel may not be back anytime soon as the charges against him are heavy and you may never be able to afford the kind of lawyer that can defend him. She asks you to buckle your belt and hustle because you have 2 children to care for.
You spend days thinking of how to hustle but you come up with nothing and for the first time in your adult life you feel helpless as you realize you have never had to hustle to live.
You met Daniel in your final year in school and married him just after graduation. He insisted that you do nothing because he was capable of caring for you and he did care for you. He gave you the best life money could afford. Vacations were a dime a dozen, expensive Jewelry were the souvenirs from every trip made and he made many trips.
Now that he is gone, you realize you have no skill or experience but you are determined to survive as you tell yourself "what doesn't kill you make you stronger."
You decide that you would sell whatever you can from your Jewelry and start a business so you can take care of your kids.
You decide that you hold the Forte till Daniel returns.
What you do not know however is that you would lose the Five hundred thousand naira you raised from selling some Jewelry when the second hand clothes you would buy from Benin republic to sell in Nigeria are ceased at the Seme border by the Nigerian Customs because they are contraband goods.
What you also do not know is that you will fight with your Mum after she calls you foolish for being fully dependent on a man not having money stashed for the rainy days and that she would ask you to leave her house as there cannot be two Captains in a ship.
What you also do not know is that after selling more Jewelry and valuables to rent an apartment, pay your children's expensive school fees and the fees of the high profile Lawyer you got to defend Daniel, you would be totally broke.
What you also do not know is that Daniel's friends Bruno and Iyke who luckily escaped even though they were involved in the deal that led to his arrest would offer to help you only if you have sex with them.
You would spit in Bruno's face the day he tells you in his house and throw the glass of drink Iyke offered you in his office at him and you would cry for nights on end because you never knew people could change suddenly and be so cruel.
What you also do not know is that when your rent expires, you would go to your friends who would turn their backs on you and treat you like a Pariah. You would spend six hours outside Tricia's gate waiting for her so she can help you with money to buy food for your babies but she would tell her security man to tell you she isn't at home.
You didn't envisage the day you would withdraw Crystal and Ella from school because you can no longer afford the fees and even send Crystal to live with your Church members Mr and Mrs Nnamani who would offer to help care for her.
You do not know that 6 months after Crystal who is now 9 years old moves in with your church members, she would be abused sexually by Mr Nnamani. He would threaten to kill her if she mentions it to you or his wife and she would keep quiet out of fear.
You also do not know Crystal would die after she drinks the concoction given to her by Mr Nnamani when a Pregnancy test comes out positive. He would tell you after her burial to go for deliverance so that the spirits after you would not kill Ella as well and that he would keep you in his prayers.
You would cry as life deals you blow after blow and you remind yourself that this wasn't what you bargained for when you signed "For better or for worse."
You also do not know that you would try to make peace with your mother but she would turn you away, again.
You do not know that you would one day contemplate sleeping with Daniel's friends in exchange for money because there would be no money or health insurance to pay for an Appendectomy for Ella.
On that day you change your mind as you beg God to take your life instead because you have lost the fight in you.
On that day also your new boss a Lawyer whose house you clean would scold you when she finds you crying by the pool when you should have been working.
On that day you would tell her your story and she would promise to pay for Ella's surgery, take you out of the batcher made of zinc you live in and get a Lawyer to defend Daniel.
For the first time in years, someone would keep the promise they made to you and on the day you see Daniel again 5 years after his stay in detention, you would remind yourself what it meant when you said "For better or worse".
You do not know also that one year after Daniel's return you would have a son whom you would name 'Chukwuebuka' meaning God is Great.
Today though, you are holding Crystal and Ella in your arms and showing them the Jewelry you plan to sell so you can raise funds to start a business selling second hand clothes as well as pay their school fees.
Today you promise to protect and care for your babies but you do not know all that life has in store for you.
Wednesday, 6 March 2019
You blink back the tears as he turned to look at you.
Today you would break the heart of the one man who meant the world to you.
"What is it my dear?" He asks.
"I said I have something to say." You respond.
He takes off his glasses and puts down his book. He does this when he wants to give his full attention to a conversation and you always smile as you wonder how taking off one's glasses will make them hear well. Today however you do not smile.
How can you when you know everything is about to change?
As you open your mouth to speak, you let your mind drift to the days when life was perfect. When he meant the world to you, and he was the man you revered more than anything else. Your relationship with him began after Mum died when you were 6 years old. She died while giving birth and you were told the child was a boy. He too didn't make it.
Although you were too young to understand, Daddy always reveled you with stories of Mum. How they met, how she was the Centre of his world and how she passed because of the negligence of his best friend. For the past 21 years he has never told the story without crying and when you ask he would say...
"I'm still mourning my heart. I lost it the day your Mum left. She was my heart, my happiness, the only thing that made sense in my life. I lost all that when she left but I thank God for you. You are the only thing that makes sense in my life now and I owe it to Ese to take care of you."
He would then add "You know Ese means "gift" right? Your Mum was indeed a gift."
They first met when he visited her school with his best friend who had gone to see his sister. She was an undergraduate, he was working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and his best friend was a Medical Doctor.
You can almost visualize the scene because you have heard the story countless times.
He started it the same way, "I remember looking up to see her walking with my friend's sister towards our car. She was wearing a yellow flowery dress and white flip flops, her hair packed in a bun. She was the epitome of innocence and beauty. I remember because everything stopped till they got to the car and I couldn't hear a thing while we were being introduced. She wasn't the prettiest girl I had seen but my heart couldn't stop beating. It never stopped till we got married and till the day she left. The day she left was the day I lost my heart because it has never beat since then."
He would wipe his eyes as he told you of the day she left. He never used the word die.
Mum was supposed to be operated on because the baby was breached but Dad's best friend, Dr Okpako insisted on vaginal birth because he thought she could make it even against the advise of his other colleagues. She bled so much and was very weak by the time Dr Okpako decided to have a Caesarean Section done. She died with the baby.
Dad resigned from his job with the ministry and took up a teaching job just so he could take care of you. He never remarried.
Today as you watch him, you notice that he has aged slightly. He looks a little different from the man who made it his duty to dress you up for school everyday, played football with you and taught you to fight so you could defend yourself when you were being bullied at school.
He helped you bake pastries and sew aprons for Home-Economics practicals, taught you to swim, cleaned you up when you first noticed blood in your panties and gave you the sanitary pads he had bought in anticipation.
On the day of your Matriculation, he came with two buses filled with your relatives and more than enough for everyone to eat and drink.
On the day of your Convocation, he wrote a letter to you telling you how proud he was of you. Inside the envelope was the pearl earrings he had gifted your Mum when she had you. They are yours now.
When you got your job with the Advertising agency where you are now an executive, he gifted you a Car.
As you watch him today, you tremble as you think of how to break the news to him.
Frank has asked you to marry him.
You knew this would happen, you knew from that first day he let you take his space on the queue at the mall. He had seen you pushing your trolley full of items and gestured for you to take his place. When others on the queue protested, he went to stand at the rear taking your place. You had to wait outside till he came out so you could thank him.
That day you were convinced you had found the one that would take care of you.
When he told you his surname days after, you probed further and found out he is the son of Doctor Okpako, daddy's former best friend whose negligence cost your Mum's life.
You still agreed to date because you fell for him from that first day and when he asked to see your Dad you told him you wanted to be sure of his place in your life first.
He did all he could to assure you that you are first in his life and you fell harder for him.
He became your drug and addiction, and when he got on his knees and asked you to marry him, you snatched the ring and went on your knees too as you said yes. That day remains the best day of your life.
Today as you look at your Dad, you wonder how to break the news to him.
How do you tell him he's about to become family with the man against whom he has borne a grudge for over 20 years? How can you explain that in a world of over 7 billion people the one person you fell for is the son of his enemy? How can you claim to love a person and still break their heart?
Tuesday, 5 March 2019
It was your fourth time at the church and now you are beginning to think your friends are right. Maybe you are losing it. Because honestly who goes to a Church for 4 Sundays successively just to catch a glimpse of a girl?
"Is something wrong with me?" You ask, thinking out loud.
It all began four Sundays ago when you attended Steve's marriage thanksgiving service.
You were unable to attend the wedding ceremony because you had arrived town late on the day and so you had to attend the thanksgiving service that held at his wife's Church the following day.
That was when you first saw her.
She was among the ushers that stood by the door, welcoming congregants.
She had flashed a smile as she said "God bless you Sir" and then she motioned for you to follow another usher who showed you your seat.
You always thought it cheesy to be greeted with "God bless you" whenever you were at a Church but on that day it sounded different.
Maybe it was her smile or the glint in her eyes. Maybe it was the Red dress she wore, but then the other Ushers wore red dresses too. Maybe it was because you were in a good mood. Whatever it was, hearing her say those words gave them a new meaning.
You found yourself glancing at the entrance where she stood earlier and scanning the congregation throughout the service just to catch a glimpse of her.
You smiled each time you saw her and you looked away quickly the time your eyes met hers as you walked out after the service.
As you drove home you thought of her but you told yourself it was nothing. You have met countless women and soon you would forget about her.
It was when you found yourself asking Steve the next Saturday what time the service in his wife's former church started that you knew this wasn't normal.
When he asked why, you told him you had decided to go 'visit' the church again. He expressed surprise because even his wife had started attending his own church as was the custom with most people after the wedding ceremony.
He handed the phone to his wife who explained the service hours to you.
As you hung up you decided you would go for the 3rd service because that was the service you attended when you saw her last week.
As you stepped into church the next day, she wasn't at the entrance. You felt somewhat disappointed but you shrugged off the feeling as you were sure you would see her during the service. But you didn't.
You recall the Pastor preaching about Grace, the unmerited favour of God that saves even the worst of us.
"The thing about Grace is that it doesn't care about your past. No matter how ugly your past is, Grace can save you. No matter how far you have gone, Grace reaches out and hands you a clean slate."
You remember those words because you felt he was talking to you but your mind kept drifting as you scanned through the congregation for her. She was not there. As you stepped out of church at the close of service, you felt disappointed.
During the course of the week you found yourself thinking of her and you decided this wasn't cool anymore so you called Steve who had traveled with his wife for their 'honey moon' and you told him everything. He laughed as he teased you, but you told him you were not joking.
Even you were scared of the way you felt, this had never happened before.
Okay, fine you had met girls you were drawn to in the past and you went all out to get them but they were usually girls of a particular 'spec' and they were not girls who welcomed you at church.
The next Sunday you found yourself at church again. This time you attended the 2nd service and when you didn't see her, you waited for the 3rd.
The Pastor preached again about 'Grace'.
"Paul the apostle is the perfect example of how Grace can change a man. Paul was the original bad guy. He supervised the killing of Christians and destroyed churches but when Grace found him he became a new man. He was so convinced of his new nature that while addressing the church he boldly declared, I have wronged no man. Some of the women in the crowd were widows of men he had killed so imagine the effrontery in saying he had done no wrong. Grace enabled him move on from the past."
You remembered those words because again you felt as though the Pastor was talking to you. Intermittently your mind would drift to her and you would scan the congregation. She still wasn't at church.
On the 4th Sunday, you heeded the call to 'give your life to Christ' after the Pastor finished his message on Grace. He had talked about Rahab the prostitute and the woman who was caught in adultery. They both were to be stoned to death as was the custom in those days but Grace saved them.
The Choir had sang a song about Grace.
"Lord I've been broken
Although I'm not worthy
You fixed me, I'm blinded
By your Grace
You came and saved me"
"Lord I've been broken
Although I'm not worthy
You fixed me, I'm blinded
By your Grace
You came and saved me"
You remember those lines from the song because it was as they sang the words, that you felt the overwhelming urge to just surrender. On that day you became born again.
As you drove home, you wondered if it was the desire to see her or the words that were preached that had made you attend the church for 4 Sundays successively. As you pondered on the words of the Pastor as he spoke at the reception held for New Believers after the service, you decided that it was Grace that had kept you. You knew you wanted to see her again but you also knew you had been blinded by God's Grace.
Today, 4 days after your conversion as you pulled over at the parking lot of the restaurant where you were to meet with Steve for lunch and business talk, you had only one thing on your mind. A desire to pursue a relationship with God and just live differently. You had bought some messages and listened to them for the past days in the house and as you drove in your car. You felt renewed.
You walk out of the parking lot towards the restaurant where Steve is already waiting, you have not seen him since he returned from his 'honeymoon'.
As you walk on, you ponder on the ideas you had drawn out to discuss with him. You mull over them as you climb the stairs but you are jolted to reality by the lady who almost bumps into you.
She was talking on the phone and almost missed her step, you had to hold her to steady her.
"You should pay more attention to the stairs so you don't fall."
"I'm so sorry." She responds. She seemed to have ended the call as she turned to face you.
Excitement, relief, joy and panic rush through you all at once as you recognize her. You feel your heart stop and for a minute you can't seem to find the words to say. The lady that took you back to Church is standing right in front of you and she is wearing a Red dress again.
"Hi, my name is Grace" she says as she extends her hand for a shake.
You shake hands with her but still say nothing. You managed a nod.
"I'm sorry, I almost bumped into you. I just got back to town and headed here first as I'm planning a surprise party for my Fiance. He doesn't know I'm back and I was just telling him I missed my flight. It's his birthday and his friends will bring him here to celebrate so..."
She was speaking so fast as she tried to apologize and explain why she almost bumped into you but after you heard Fiance, you barely heard any other thing she said.
All you remember is your heart racing as you spot the ring on her finger. You nod at her and walk on into the restaurant to meet Steve.
How did you not notice a ring that first Sunday or was she not engaged then?
You know you have lost appetite. You know you may not be able to discuss business with Steve as planned. You know you just had your heart broken without even being in a relationship.
You feel a lump in your throat and now you wonder if Grace would keep you in Church now that you know the Grace you originally desired is engaged.
You feel a lump in your throat and now you wonder if Grace would keep you in Church now that you know the Grace you originally desired is engaged.
As you ponder on the events of the past four Sundays, only one question lingers in your mind "Were you blinded by God's Grace or the Grace in a Red dress?"
Monday, 4 March 2019
"You need to be calm and at least be thankful that nothing bad happened. It could have been worse you know."
"Darling I know. I'm just really angry at myself, I think I over reacted. I have never insulted someone like that in my life, I never even knew I had it in me to snap and be that savage." You replied.
As you continue, you know the next thing she would say is "Sweetheart stop beating yourself up, it's your.... And as if on cue you hear the words "Sweetheart stop beating yourself up, it's your melancholic self taking over again. Just take a deep breath, you'll be fine."
You smile as you knew she would make you inhale and exhale deeply 3 times. The exercise always worked and as you inhale the third time, you feel relief wash over you. So you smile widely again.
"Darling, I can't imagine my life without you. You are THE blessing that gives meaning to my other blessings." You blurt out the words without thinking and you sigh because this is what she does to you. She makes you feel the way you have never felt and so you say things you have never said and you mean them.
"You know you are my best YES right?" She asks.
She always asks this question right before she adds, "You know, I still wonder how I survived three decades without you."
You wait to hear the words but instead she says "Sweetheart I'll have to speak to you later. My Dad is calling me, I think my Uncle has arrived".
"Alright, I'll go freshen up now. We are headed for my uncle's in a few minutes as well." You replied.
As you hang up you replay the day's incident in your head.
You had left the office and was on your way to the airport to pick up your brother who had just come into town. You left work early because you would both go to see your uncle who would also accompany you to see her family for your first formal introduction.
You are well acquainted with her parents and siblings and even had their help when you proposed to her but other members of your family would have to meet other members of her family to formally ask her hand in marriage.
Your brother had just come into town and your parents were arriving the next day.
It was on your way to the airport that the incident happened. You narrowly escaped a head on collusion with an oncoming vehicle.
It had all happened so fast.
One minute you were listening to a conversation about the disturbing rise in depression induced suicide amongst young Nigerians, the next minute you found yourself swerving off your lane as the oncoming vehicle hit yours hard before the driver speeds past you.
As you watched from your rear view mirror, you saw the car move in a zig-zag motion and you fear that he would run into pedestrians because he seemed to be having brake failure. You managed to get back on your lane, turned the vehicle and sped to catch up with him. The car continued ahead in the zigzag motion as pedestrians and vendors scampered in different direction so as not to be hit.
It was when the car ran into a pot hole that was becoming a ditch on the road that it stopped. The ineptitude of government seemed to have become a blessing.
You caught up with them and pulled over just behind their vehicle, still shaken from all that happened.
As you got out of your car, you demanded to know what happened from the driver who screamed in return as he asked if you couldn't see that it was Brake failure. As you heard him scream you felt anger rise within you. That was when you scolded him that he definitely had been on full speed before the Brake failure happened.
An elderly man opened the back door and came out of the car. He tried to pacify you but you were too angry to listen to him so you hurled insults at him and the driver.
A small crowd had gathered at this time.
You ask them what they would have done had any life been lost. You were shaking as you spoke and you knew your reaction was the aftermath of the shock you experienced. The elderly man asked you to watch your tongue but you shut him up as you told him the cost of your bumper was enough to pay for the SUV they drove. You finally walked out on them and continued your trip to pick your brother from the airport. It was while relaying the incident to him that you admitted that you over reacted. He assured you that it was not your fault, he even said he may have slapped the driver had he been in your shoes.
When you got home and you relayed all that happened to Voke, your Fiancée she assured you that it could have been worse and urged you not to berate yourself for overreacting.
As the conversation ended, you step into the bathroom. A cold bath never felt so good.
Two days later you arrive her house in company of your Parents, Brother and Uncle for the formal introduction ceremony.
You wanted a party but she insisted on keeping it 'simple and private'.
In her words, "the wedding can be a carnival if you please but I want this to be quiet."
As you exchange pleasantries with her family - your in laws to be, her Father pleads that you all be patient as his brother who came into town for the event was on his way. He had insisted on staying at a hotel instead of the house.
You smile as you recall that Voke had told you the day before.
Drinks were served and Voke came out to greet members of your family.
She was still on her knees in front of your Parents when you heard her Dad say "Finally, the Lion has arrived.
A vehicle had just driven into the compound and you were told that it was her uncle.
A few minutes later he walked into the house, you were already on your feet ready to greet him. As you stretched out your hand your eyes meet. You recognize him immediately and you look away.
He seemed to scrutinize you as he asked squinting "Have we met before? Your face looks really familiar."
You do not know how to respond as your mind drifts back to the incident 2 days ago on your way to the airport. He is the elderly man from the accident.
As he takes your hand in his, you remember saying words like 'nitwit', 'ignoramus', 'dimwit' 'inept', 'stupid', 'unfortunate' and even slurs on that day.
That was when he spoke up again, "are you not the one our car collided with?"
As recognition dawned on him, he snatched his hand away from yours saying "Ah, we have already been introduced."
Then he turns to his brother, your Father in-law to be and says "this is the young man I said reminded me of the disrespect and folly of this generation."
As he spoke you turned to look at your Fiancée and as your eyes met you could tell she is thinking the same thing "this is the real Gobe."
Tuesday, 15 January 2019
"If I had known the life I was searching for was looking me right in the eye and was already my own."
These are lyrics from Adekunle Gold's 'Ire'.
I love the song and I think it's message is profound especially because I have heard a lot about going in search of greener pastures, making that move for change etal. I even advocate it and while that is good I think we do not talk enough about making the most of the gifts, privileges, opportunities, relationships we have. And maybe we should do more of that.
Maybe we should talk more of being sure we have sufficiently watered our grass before we sojourn to another.
Maybe we should focus on building with what we have, where we are because the painful thing would be to find out that the gold you have been chasing was right in your back yard and all you needed to do was dig a little deeper. Or that the mountain you have been climbing has been nothing but sand especially when it crumbles and doesn't hold you up as you expect. As you come crashing down you realize that you had the answer all along but was too blind to see.
Maybe we should explore our gifts, try again and again before we decide to let go. Maybe we need to change our perspective, change the way we see the things and people we have instead of trying to change them.
I recall a session with Speaker, Fela Durotoye once when he stated that 'Owo' means both hand and money in Yoruba. The context in which the word is used makes the difference. Perspective!
The year has just begun and it is the time when we make changes. It is the season of new beginnings, the time we hear messages about starting afresh. The time we clean our closets and toss out the old to usher in the new.
I believe in change. I believe in burning bridges that no longer serve us but I'm now learning about watering my grass, colouring it green if need be, exhausting my options before taking a walk.
Maybe it comes with experience, maybe it comes with life but I have learned that sometimes it's not a new shoe we need. Sometimes what we need to do is polish the old shoe we spent so much money to purchase, after all we already know where that one pinches.
The greatness you seek may be lying in what you have in your hand, it depends on what you do with it, how you speak about it and dream of it.
When Jesus Christ was to perform his first miracle the turning of water into wine, he asked that they bring the water they already had. He made history with what could have been discarded.
I may not be totally right, we may indeed have to burn more bridges and move on to new ventures but we should also try watering the grass more, exhausting our options and recreating ourselves before finally moving on.
Goodness is calling out to you but you may not need to move anywhere else to find it. Remember that the grass is greener where you water the ground.
Get your hands dirty and get to work before its too late.
Monday, 14 January 2019
"It is like being told I can't live because I'm black."
Those were the young man's words as he spoke to the Reporter about living as a black teenager in a White community.
I was watching '101 East' on Aljazeera and the story was about 'Black Gangs' in Melbourne, Australia.
According to the report there has been an increase in gangs of black teenagers who commit criminal activities in Melbourne.
A young white woman who was interviewed narrated her experience with some black teenagers who broke into her home in the middle of the night. Her husband managed to drive them away but they stole their two vehicles.
As she spoke she cried stating that the sight of black people bring back memories of the night. She noted that she knows it unfair to judge people because of their colour but she couldn't help it. I do not blame her. It is what trauma does to a person's mind - it causes paranoia.
The young man who was interviewed stated that he is judged because of his colour and cannot get a job because there's the fear that he may be a criminal. When he goes to shop, he is watched like a thief. He decided to start what he called the first black owned record label in Melbourne and released a rap video. Guess what he and his team raps about? Crime, drugs and violence - that's what they promote in their song.
He says they wanted to take advantage of the criminal reports but it back fired as news spread that they were actually gang members. It's like hammering the nail on one's own coffin. I guess sometimes being stupid and reckless is part of being young.
As I watched the report, I empathized with the white woman who was robbed as well as the young boys who are suffering from the crime of a few black teenagers.
It is what stereotyping does.
We judge a group based on the actions of a few. In philosophy it is called the 'fallacy of hasty generalization'.
I have had people tell me that they are surprised to see a calm Warri girl when they hear I grew up in Warri because in their opinion 'Warri People' are crazy. Nigerian comedians haven't helped with this image as in their attempt to crack jokes they talk about how in Warri violence is the order of the day and that even old women carry guns and break bottles. Even those who have never been to Warri have milked this narrative.
It is what Chimamanda talked about in 'the danger of a single story'. I wrote about it HERE too.
Stereotyping results in us making subjective judgements. It promotes our differences and not our common humanity. There are bad people every where just as there are good people and this isn't limited to one race, tribe or gender.
Listen to both sides of a story before you draw your conclusion and don't always take everything you read hook, line and sinker.
The reason we have brains is so we can think/rationalize and the reason we have a heart is so we can empathize and remember our humanity is the common denominator for us all.
Use your brain. Use your heart.
Thursday, 10 January 2019
I had a conversation today with a friend about balancing work and family as women - mothers and wives.
This was a result of my response to her Whatsapp status about women balancing work and family, referring to Glenn Close' emotional speech when she won the award for Best Actress in a Drama at the Golden Globes.
I responded with "One of my concerns. My schedule now leaves little time for anything else and I wonder what it would be like when I start my family."
She noted that while she is grateful for her family she knows family has slowed her down.
I honestly can't count the number of times I have asked my colleagues who are married how they cope. They would laugh and say they always find a way.
Women are nurturers and I think it is the biggest privilege anyone can have. To give life and nurture that life is a privilege never to be taken for granted.
However to nurture life while creating value with your gifts/talents and making your mark in the world is the highest calling anyone can answer to.
I have been privileged to have a mother who did her business travelling all over while raising us. She set an example for me about pursuing my dream and never letting it go no matter what. This isn't easy especially in a society like ours where women are called to sacrifice a lot.
I know many women who have given up their dreams to raise families, if you ever had to I must salute your courage. Some quit their jobs and relocate after marriage, if this is you I hope you are able to begin again.
I read an interview where Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie noted that having to nurture her baby has slowed down her writing. For someone as tenacious as she is, it shows that raising a family takes its toll on even the fiercest of us.
So dear Woman,
I hope that you are able to find your purpose and pursue it while raising your family. I hope that you choose a partner who holds your hand and supports you all the way while you both build a home. I hope that you are able to say like Glenn Close, "I can and should be allowed to do that."
And most importantly, I hope that you nurture yourself too and look beautiful EVERYDAY while at it.
See excerpts from Glenn Close' speech below:
"To play a character who is so internal, I'm thinking of my mom who really sublimated herself to my father her whole life,”
"In her 80s she said to me, 'I feel like I haven't accomplished anything.' And it was so not right. And I feel like what I've learned from this whole experience is, women, we're nurturers, that's what's expected of us.
"We have our children, we have our husbands if we're lucky enough, and our partners. But we have to find personal fulfilment. We have to follow our dreams. We have to say, 'I can do that and I should be allowed to do that.’
Wednesday, 9 January 2019
"Most men invest their time in matters of transient value at the expense of what they should cherish, what they should value like love, life, family". Those were Chief Obiagu's words to Adaeze his daughter as he affirmed his belief in her abilities.
Adaeze was in a tight position, facing the biggest challenge yet, in her life and career and those words sown by her father produced fruit of light and insight for the answer she sought to save their family business 'Lion Heart Motors'. This is the story of the movie 'Lion Heart'.
I saw the movie last night and because I am not a movie critic, I cannot tell you about the technicalities but I will share the lessons I learned.
The first is the importance of family, family is everything. As I watched I recalled the line "how can we not talk about family when family is all that we have got?" from the song 'See You Again'.
My brother says this to me a lot so it's stuck. In the end family is all we really have, they know us as we were and have held our hands through our lowest moments so we must do our best to hold on to the ties that bind us.
This is reinforced by Mrs Obiagu when she told her daughter "you can never come between two brothers". Adaeze was angry that her father picked his brother over her to head the company in his absence but she learned quickly that Ndidiamaka, Edirinverere, Surulere if you must, patience is a virtue.
I also learned about leaving a legacy. The bible says a wise man leaves an inheritance for his sons. Not everyone is privileged to have that but we should strive to give our children what we may not have gotten. Most importantly ensure that you teach them the values you hold dear because in the face of challenges, those values will help them keep the legacy.
A good leader is one who has a successor to carry on his legacy after he has gone. Ask Jesus Christ, that man died long ago but his work is still going on.
Lion Heart motors in this movie is more than a business, it's a legacy.
I learned too that when push comes to shove, you had better sit up because the ones who dined with you may not waste time in turning to your enemy if he offers them a 'seemingly' more scrumptious meal. This is evident in the board's swift lean in to Igwe Paschal a rival business man who wanted to buy 'Lion Heart Motors' after it was declared bankrupt.
You "sit up and shut up" as Mrs Obiagu (Onyeka Onwenu's character) admonished and get to work.
And then I learned about picking those who will do the work in your presence as well as in your absence. Those with you should be for you whether you are there or not and even if they are just two people, you have done well.
I learned that sometimes when you are put on trial you may never get the opportunity to defend yourself before your accusers. Don't you think so? But continue you must. Keep on till you prove them wrong.
Another important lesson is affirmation of confidence and love for our children, siblings, family.
I was emotional when Chief Obiagu (Pete Edochie's character) told his daughter "The biggest legacy I will leave for posterity is you my daughter. You are the pendulum of my life if you stop swinging, then I'm done." Dang!
I have had people repose confidence in me and I know how I vow to never disappoint them, so imagine hearing that from your father - you would surely go through hell and high waters to let him know he was never wrong. He was never wrong.
And when you hit rock bottom, it is an indication that you cannot go lower therefore change will happen if you keep pushing and remember that "God never gives you a burden he has not equipped you to carry" as Mrs Obiagu admonished. Never ever give up.
It is also a story about SERENDIPITY. Adaeze (Genevieve Nnaji's character) earned an admirer while simply minding her business.
Lion Heart is Genevieve Nnaji's directorial debut and I think she did a fantastic work with the story, picture quality and cast.
She told a beautiful story that is relatable yet not cliche while show casing the rich culture of the Igbo people.
The actors spoke a lot of Igbo and because I do not understand the language I didn't understand a lot of what was said - there should have been a translation.
Overall it is a feel good movie, a simple classic that got me smiling widely at the end. Most of the actors are from the 'old Nollywood' and that made me nostalgic.
You earn your place in people's heart not by being timid but by being bold, courageous and blazing the trail. This can only happen with a Lion Heart.
Obiagu! Protect 'the' Pride!
P.S: A company/group of Lions is called a 'Pride' and Lions do all they can to protect the 'Pride'.
Monday, 7 January 2019
"Okiemute do you agree?"
"Agree with what?" I asked.
With what Kachi is saying.
"Do you think it's a Woman's duty to cook or not?" Oh! In my head I thought "another man and woman argument?"
I knew they were discussing or rather arguing but I wasn't listening. So when Alesha asked I wanted to tell her I had an interview in a few hours and a report to finish before I set out for the interview. And then a movie premiere that I can only attend if I'm able to finish the interview in time so the last thing on my mind is who should cook.
In fact if I were married, my husband would probably have asked me not to bother with cooking today. With all I had to do? His wife cannot come and die because of food o.
"So what do you think?" I looked at them, as they watched me waiting for my response. 3 of my Senior colleagues all married and probably in their 50s, 3 other males and 3 females.
"I think a woman should cook and a man should support where necessary. If they are too busy and can afford it, they can get a Chef."
"Okiemute has started again, which one is Chef again?" Another colleague retorted.
"If they have to fight about who cooks, they should get a Chef na."
Kachi was having none if all I was saying. "Never!" she said, we have to share everything equally.
Kachi calm down I said, "You are sounding like it's a war."
"Yes o, it is a war. Women have suffered too much. In fact I shouldn't have been born in this Nigeria."
"Haba! This one pass me o" I thought as I went back to working on my report, let me run for cover in this war.
"So you think women abroad do not cook in their homes?" A colleague asked Kachi.
The argument continued. Some warned her not to marry an Igbo man with her ideology as she would receive backhand slap.
"But she is Igbo na." I said but in head I thought bare Igbo men violent?"
"Don't mind them." she responded.
Then our Boss walked in. "What's the argument about? Why the noise?"
Apparently the voices had transcended our floor to hers.
When she was told she gave her opinion which is
1. We should raise boys who do not see women as good only for sex and the kitchen like most of our fathers did. Boys should cook too - Let me state here that my Dad cooked when I was younger, ehen.
2. Kachi shouldn't go telling guys that 'this is war o, we must share every chore equally" relationship is not war.
3. Every couple should decide how their home will be run.
4. It is easy to remember our rights until we meet the one we love.
"Kachi it's your kind that will wash beans and make Moi Moi after work just to please a man. Not because you are stupid but because you love him" She said and we all laughed.
I am an advocate of number 3 and I also nodded at number 4. Love changes everything but it is still respects the other.
The argument proceeded to Football and because I have 0.00000001% knowledge of Football, I can't tell you how that panned out. I remember though that she said Liverpool would beat some club maybe Arsenal or Chelsea or Manchester United or Manchester City - I can't recall but I know Liverpool was mentioned.
As I continued with my Report, I thought of Liverpool's slogan 'You will never walk alone' and I smiled and nodded because against all odds, this is what marriage should be about.
In marriage, you should never walk alone.
Saturday, 5 January 2019
My eyes caught them and I wondered why I hadn't noticed them before. They stood on the other side of the baggage carousel in the baggage reclaim area. We were waiting for our luggage.
I looked at the young and really pretty mother with her equally pretty daughter, but it wasn't their looks that caught my attention, it was the cuff on their arms. The daughter's arm was chained to the Mum's arm with a spiral rubber cuff. I had never seen that before so I stared for a few more seconds before looking away. The Mum was obviously trying to ensure that her daughter didn't get lost. Whenever the little girl seemed to be straying far as she pranced about, the Mum would pull her back.
To be honest it was a funny sight as the little girl looked like a dog on a leash.
As I looked on I realised that some other people were staring too but the Mother seemed not to care. She is probably used to the stares and cared only about one thing - the safety of her child.
As I watched them, I wondered if the little girl knew the woman holding her would gladly bleed for her. I wondered if in her state of innocence she knew this woman would go to the ends of the earth for her.
As I watched them my mind drifted to a question I have had to answer one time too many.
"Are you the last child?" It is usually followed with "are you the first?" when I answer in the negative. "Then why does your Mum keep calling you?"
I once told a colleague who asked while a training was on that "it's because her baby is far from home. She calls us all like this, she can't help it."
This is true.
A mother cannot help the way she feels about her child. In the Greek categorization of Love, the love a Mother has for her child is categorized as 'Phileo', to love 'because'. So a mother loves 'because this is her child'.
From experience however, I'd say a mother's love is more like 'Agape', to love 'in spite of'. Mothers love in spite of their children's shortcomings and mistakes.
A mother's love stays in spite of, it never gives up. I can't count how many times I have offended my Mum but I always know she'd never let me go, no matter what. There are a few things I am 'sure' of, this is one of them.
As my mind drifts to the present I watch the Mother and her daughter, they had picked up their luggage and were walking out. Mine was yet to come so I had to wait but as I waited, I thought to myself - we expresslove for our mothers more.
We should do better, give better and act better. We should do more to let them know we love them more.
Friday, 4 January 2019
"I married you for companionship and not sex."
He was screaming.
"You must tell me what is wrong with you today." She retorted.
He was sitting at the dining table made of glass, his food in front of him.
"I need to eat, don't push me." He was scooping food from the plate.
"I said you must tell me what is wrong today." She screamed again.
He made to stand up warning her but he didn't expect what happened next.
She hit the dining table with so much force that it broke into pieces.
Even I was shocked - Jesu! Aunty calm down na.
At that point he knew she had lost it and his gragra wouldn't do.
He immediately went on his knees promising to tell her the truth.
It turned out to be a bitter truth.
As he spilled it out her eyes almost fell off their socket.
He was impotent, incapable of having an erection. She was too befuddled to speak at first and then she broke into tears.
"Are you telling me that you are not functioning down there?" She pointed at his groin. He nodded.
"Eh! My God, what have I gotten myself into?"
As she cried I felt like crying too.
After 3 months of marriage, begging her husband to make love to her, him coming up with all sorts of excuses and even faking sickness demanding to be hospitalized, he finally admitted that he had erectile dysfunction.
This has to be any woman's worst nightmare. Kweke!
A husband that can never make love to you?
I knew it!
What man runs away from sex and gets angry when his partner insists on making love? Na him go dey rush you sef.
But Oga why didn't you tell her before marriage na? You were there saying you made a vow to be celibate before marriage. Even I was rooting for you...common!
She went on to confide in her friend who advised her to either leave him or get a lover outside. I felt for her.
How can she walk out on her marriage? And then cheating? Maybe she should walk out instead. I mean what would you advise in a situation like this?
She turned down both suggestions and decided to seek medical advice, against her husband's wish. He wanted to bear the shame in silence to protect his pride but Aunty was having none of it.
I do not blame her, which pride? Sir, you are in your own o, cravings know no pride. Kapish?
Thankfully his condition could be remedied by surgery, so they opted for that.
3 months after the surgery Aunty became the one complaining,
"Sweetheart I am tired, we were at it all day and all night. Please let me rest."
In my head I thought "Rest? Define rest please because I am not understanding. After all the fighting and quarrel now action time comes and you want to rest. No jokes but we are making up for lost time and making down payment for the future. So Aunty level up!"
This story I just shared happened in a movie I just saw.
The man in question was practically forced to get married. At age 40 he was wealthy but single because in his words "he hadn't found his kind of woman and was being careful."
Turned out that he avoided women because of his predicament.
And while it ended happily as predicted, I couldn't help but wonder if the man would have been as patient and supportive if the tables were turned? Before she broke the table, she had pleaded, seduced, cried and even fasted.
Imagine fasting to get laid...Odiegwu!
I ask this question because men are raised to be egotistical while women are raised to be altruistic. I think it is society and not nature.
Men can, and do get away with so much.
And in reality, if a couple is yet to conceive, the woman takes the blame - this one is barren they say, Oga please try another leg.
If a woman has a baby outside wedlock, she is to blame - I mean she tripped and impregnated herself right? Oh! I forgot, she is simply irresponsible.
If a husband does something he ought not to do, the woman is told it is because she isn't doing something right.
So if the woman in the movie was unable to have sex with her husband after over 100 days of marriage because of a condition she didn't disclose before the wedding, would he have been as patient?
Would he have cried and pleaded?
Would her love have been enough?
Thursday, 3 January 2019
"Hey Aunty, good morning."
I turned to look at him. His face was familiar but I wasn't sure where I had seen him.
"Don't you remember me?" He asked.
"Hmm, your face is familiar but I am trying to recall where..."
Before I could land he responded "the guy that took your pictures"
"Oh, oh, now I remember. How are you?"
He was the one that took pictures of me days ago. He noted that he was fine and made to walk on.
"Are you going to your office?" I asked.
"Yes ma." He turned again. His office is in the same complex as mine but he probably didn't know. "Okay, why don't you join us?"
He was with another young man so I told the Cab man taking me that he and his friend would join us.
As we journeyed he asked if I had goodies from the festive season for him. I chuckled, I was in no mood small talk.
"I am doing this to pass time until the strike is called off." I heard him say, that piqued my interest. Apparently he is doing Photography until the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) calls off their strike action.
"You are a student?"
"Uyo, Akwa Ibom."
"You came to Abuja from Uyo?"
"What are you studying?"
"I like that you are making productive use of your time than to sit at home. Well done."
"Thank you ma."
I asked about his plans for the future noting that there's a lot of money to be made from Agriculture.
As we spoke I considered all the other undergraduates whose future hang in the balance because of the strike action. Some may not be like this young man who chose to work because they may not even be sure of what they want yet.
But should he even have been in Abuja working when he could have been at school? Would a responsible government allow youths idle away?
I recall a meeting where it was noted that there were plans to build more tertiary institutions. A country that is yet to effectively manage the existing ones? Where less than 50% of funds budgeted for tertiary education in 2018 has been disbursed?
Are we moulding youths or discouraging them? Are we encouraging them or killing their dreams?
I graduated 3 months later than I was supposed to because of this same ASUU strike action.
Organised labour has even threatened to go on strike over the statement by the Nigerian Governor's Forum that most states may be unable to pay the proposed thirty thousand naira new minimum wage.
As we alighted from the vehicle, he thanked me for the ride and as he walked on I turned to look at him, the one whose dream is being toyed with.
Let's be serious please and let this nonsense stop in 2019. Abeg!
Wednesday, 2 January 2019
I had a good time laughing today as I saw a colleague's computer screen saver. He had put up a picture of wads of Naira notes.
"This is to remind me of my only goal this year as I see it every day".
"So why Naira na, why not Pounds and Dollars?" I asked still laughing.
"No this is good. In millions and billions it will still be the same as Dollars", he replied and I laughed some more.
I liked that he put up his goal in a space where he'll always see it.
"So how much have you made this year, it's day 2 already o?", I asked.
He noted that he already had deals that would bring more money than I can imagine and I laughed some more. As we spoke I reiterated the fact that we do not have 365 days any more in 2019.
"In fact we have less that 364 days as it stands so make every second count." I said. He nodded, I could see that he was thinking deeply about what I had said.
As we continued our conversation I recalled a conversation I had with my brother yesterday about making the most of the seconds to give meaning to the minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and ultimately the year.
This is true.
We have less than 365 days now in 2019 and if we do not make the most of the seconds then the minutes would be lost and the minutes add up to the days, weeks, months and then the year.
What have you done so far this year? Still recovering from your enjoyment galore? Have you at least put up a picture of what you want?
If you are not sure what step to take, you could reach out to someone whose opinion you trust for advice. You can just pick a good book and keep reading until light dawns for you.
The year has begun, the time to start whatever you set out for is now. By this time tomorrow we will have less than 363 days left.
No pressures please but be deliberate in acting and just remember that it's best to do nothing than to be busy doing nothing.
Love and light to you!😉✌💞