DELIVERANCE. PART 2

Afolabi’s vanishing act left a bitter taste in my mouth and for a few good years, I wanted nothing to do with men, until I met Nathan. He was sophisticated, well-travelled and an encyclopedia of knowledge. He was also very married. Yet, this did not stop us from cavorting like teenagers. In the Christian African Mother’s parlance, we were committing adultery. He spoiled me silly with gifts, was attentive to all my needs and he was an unmatched lover. Then one beautiful, baby-blue sky morning, Nathan asked me to accompany him somewhere. It turned out to be a lawyer’s office. He wanted to initiate divorce proceedings against his wife. I was speechless the whole time and the entire ride back home. The impact of the havoc I was about to wreak, hit me full force. When we got home, Nathan explained that he took me with him to show that he was ready to begin a new life with me. He asked me to marry him. I thought it was what I wanted, and I thought I would be thrilled at the chance to spend the rest of my life with Nathan. But somehow, all I saw were his wife and children. I wondered what my life would have been like if my father had left us for another woman. It was the most depressing goodbye I ever had to say. I don’t know if his mother tried to get him delivered from the spirit of adultery. I don’t know how these things work.

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My heart was still very raw when I met Osagie. I was still grieving over Nathan but I realized that I needed to move on so I let him sweep me off my feet. I was terrified of being alone so I plunged right into the thick of it with him. Oh, how he made me laugh. He was so funny, and so creepy in a way that one finds cute, at first. Three days after we met, he made an undying declaration of love and thereafter, punctuated every sentence with ‘I love you.’ He said it every day, at every possible opportunity on every possible platform. He pronounced tray as train. He would type ‘have you eating’ and my heart would die a little. He once described an inanimate object as adamant. He was doing more damage to my heart than my cholesterol. Still, I reflected on the fact that I was turning thirty-five and decided the poor grammar was trivial. After all, no one saves grammar at the bank. So we carried on with the comedy and the atrocious decimation of the Queen’s English. All was well until Osagie and I made love for the first time. In all the time I had been with Nathan, our love making always got better. He was a wonderful, masterful lover, whereas, Osagie could not inspire a yawn from me. He had no idea what foreplay meant and when I asked him if he had ever heard of erogenous zones, he stared at me like a blank slate. Where Nathan had always asked how he could please me, Osagie would plunge in and flail about like a fish out of water. I tried to tell him, ever so gently, that there were better ways. He would just pause, look into my eyes for a few seconds, knead my breasts like a lump of wet clay, and resume his flailing. I resigned myself to the awful copulation and told myself that God was punishing me for the illicit affair I’d had with Nathan. In no time, Osagie began to pester me about getting pregnant. He said he wanted to start feeling like a father. I retorted that you didn’t need biological children of your own to feel like one and instead, he should concentrate on becoming a husband first. He sulked for the rest of the day and I had to apologize in the end. So began the pregnancy campaign and it was so intense that it wearied my soul. After every love making session, he would make me buy a pregnancy test kit the next day to find out if I was pregnant. The more the strips came back negative, the more determined he became. I finally became so exasperated that I told him off and warned him to stop inducing anxiety attacks in me. He accused me of misbehaving because he over-loved me. He said I was practicing African love because I never yelled romantic words at him. Why, why oh why should I have to yell romantic words at a partner who is not deaf? Even then, I doubt he would hear me yelling, romantic or otherwise. For these sins, he ended the relationship. I do not know if his mother has recommended deliverance for his astounding lack of sense. I don’t know how these things work.

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I have thought, reflected, considered, evaluated and weighed the need for an African woman over a certain age and unmarried, to be delivered. The insinuation that something is spiritually wrong with a woman over thirty-five and unmarried bothers me. We may need deliverance, but it is from poor decisions, bad choices, poor judgment of character and an oppressive society that places little or no value on spinsters, but on marriage. In which case, it is a deliverance of the mind mo that is needed and this excludes no gender.

I apologized to my mum for losing my temper. I am even going to Mokwa to see her, next week. I am sure the topic will crop up again. But I’ll be ready.

DELIVERANCE. PART 1

I was engrossed in a TV show when my phone began to ring. It was the mother on the line. We went through the perfunctory greetings and she went straight to the point. ‘I was told you called earlier today. I went to church to pray for you. When do you think you’ll be able to come to Mokwa? I was told to advise you to draw closer to God and also to bring you for deliverance. In addition, you need to rebuke all your enemies from your father’s lineage, every time you pray.  The man of God said they planted a spirit husband in your life and that’s why you’ve been unable to get married. So when are you coming, because we need to do this deliverance very soon. You are almost thirty and unmarried while your younger sisters have both settled down and are having kids. I will even pay for your ticket. Just give me a date. God bless you as you take this issue seriously ‘. I kept rolling my eyes and angrily blurted ‘it is not happening mummy, and if you force the issue, I will never come home again’. I did not wait to hear her reply before I ended the call.

The anger that welled up in me as soon gave way to tears and the tears gave way to depression. What is a spirit husband? How did I become an unwitting party to this spiritual marriage? I thought of all the romantic relationships I had cultivated in the past and I began to wonder.

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There was a time when dating a man who works in a Nigerian bank was everything. So you can imagine how I felt when Jide, a cashier, flirted shamelessly with me as we held up the queue behind me and ignored all the overt and covert insults rained on us by irate customers. I ate up all the flattery like a plate of party Jollof rice because Jide was the textbook definition of tall, dark and handsome. His easy, generous smile made my heart beat tom-tom and his twinkly eyes dissolved my insides to a puddle of warm butter. Young love. We exchanged phone numbers and I skipped joyfully out of the banking hall. Pure joy, so much joy, bubbled in the pit of my stomach. Foods tasted like sawdust and misery. I smiled at everything and everyone and headed straight for the mirror when I got home. I went over my features and merged the memory of his with mine. It had only been a few hours, but I could already see our children. I kept looking into the brown pools that were my eyes. I wondered if they called out to him. Maybe it was my supple flawless skin, or the curve of my lips. Maybe it was the rise of my breasts as I laughed, or the sway of my hips. Maybe it was the sweep of my hair, or the lilt in my voice. Oh, how I wondered as I waited to hear from him.

Jide wooed me for nine months. I loved the chase and he loved the thrill. Half of our dates were spent with him sitting behind the counter and attending to the bank’s customers while we talked about any and every thing. I would just stand there and keep talking and talking until his supervisor began to give us the evil eye and then I would leave. But I always went back. Three months after I accepted to be his girlfriend, he informed me that he would be leaving for Canada and he would be gone for a while. I wept uncontrollably when he left. Canada had snatched the light of my life.

In the early months, the distance could not keep our love at bay. We spoke everyday on the phone and never stopped reaffirming our love for each other. In keeping with its tradition, time flew and Jide had been gone for one year. I started asking him about his plans to come home. ‘Oh baby’ he said. ‘It’s only November, I’ll be home for Christmas’. Christmas ushered in the New Year and the New Year got older by a quarter, but Jide was yet to make good on his promise. Then he promised to return by June but June came and he swore what he really said was August. He finally returned in October, a year later than he had promised. I didn’t see him until three weeks after his arrival and when he showed up at my door, it was with empty hands and an American accent somehow acquired in Canada. He explained, quite unconvincingly, why he had spent the extra time abroad. Then he proceeded to ask for a loan of five thousand naira, because ATM machines had swallowed all three of his debit cards. My voice was swallowed by shock and I stared vacantly at him, unseeing.  ‘Come on baby, don’t be like that. Three ATM machines and they all swallowed my cards. Can you blame me? Shit men, this fucking country is fucked man’, said the Nigerian who went to Canada and came back with an American accent.

I was hurt, hurt by the lack of effort he put into the lie. Two thousand years and counting after the death of Jesus and I couldn’t get a decent lie out of my man. I played along and told him I had planned to get some money from him because I was yet to pay my tuition fees. He got the message and quickly moved on. He then went ahead to say that he was unable to give me anything because he had purchased so much gifts for his family members and I that they had to be shipped to Nigeria. I just smiled and said nothing. Who could say anything in the circumstances?

The next day, he paid me a visit and I decided to go through his phone. All the romantic text messages I had sent to him over the course of his two year sojourn in Canada had been sent to another woman whose number was saved as Soul mate. I threw him out of my house and ended the relationship. I wonder if his mother ever scheduled a deliverance session for him, with the amour of lies and deceit that he wears about. I also wonder if my spirit husband manipulated him into lying and dealing treacherously with me. I don’t know how these things work.

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Afolabi was a short, broad chested man with narrow hips that immediately reminded me of Johnny Bravo. What he lacked in looks, he made up for in character. I was thoroughly convinced he was the gentlest man to ever walk the face of the earth. He was charming, chivalrous, considerate and sweet. But an offspring of Jezebel must have done a number on him because he was terribly afraid of commitment. Every time we managed to take one step forward, he would manage to somehow drag us twenty steps back. One moment, he was convinced I was the real deal, the next moment; he would rail about how women stoop to conquer only to reveal their true colours after their aim had been achieved. I struggled to accept the inconsistencies and kept hoping that he would see that I did not deserve to pay for another woman’s mistakes. Every time I threatened to quit the relationship, he would beg me to be patient and to give him time. Then one day I told him my younger sister was getting married. He asked me if I was under pressure to marry and how waiting for God’s time was the best. I never heard from him again. I know that he needs to be delivered from cowardice. Does his mother know this? Maybe my spirit husband engineered his vanishing act. I don’t know how these things work.

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Respectfully Yoruba

If you had the privilege of getting a boarding school education, then you’d be familiar with visiting days and how when your parents ‘come for you’, you troop down to the visiting ground in excitement with your friends. As boarders, we all looked forward to the first Saturday of every month. We sang the school anthem a little louder on the Friday preceding the Saturday visits and the prefects chose hairstyles that were intended to show off our beauty to the maximum. Hostel uniforms were washed with extra care and kept in pristine condition for Saturday morning especially by the senior girls who were sometimes visited by their boyfriends.

On those special mornings, you could see the extra bounce in everyone’s steps, the charged air of anticipation, the clashing scents of Enchanteur perfumed talc, eyebrows laid for the gods by old toothbrushes and shiny lips coated with Vaseline/Wet Lips. From 10 am to 5pm, we enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere and forgot about wicked seniors. Hello from the other side, Amina Ashieku.

My parents always showed up early, sometimes even before 10am, the official time the visit starts. And so my friends would go with me to greet my parents. We’d make the rounds as each parents came, greeting, smiling and receiving sage words of advice (remember the daughter of whom you are).

As a Yoruba child, I was accustomed to greeting my parents on my knees. It didn’t matter where, if it’s greeting time you drop to your knees and do the needful. It was no different on visiting days. I always went down on my knees to greet my parents after flying into their arms. I also assumed this was how every child in Nigeria greeted their parents.

So it was that on this fateful Saturday, my Igbo friend followed me for the first time to go greet my mum. After the hugs and kneeling ritual, I turned to introduce my friend to my mum.

Me: mummy, this is Ebere.
Ebere: remains on her feet and says ‘good morning aunty’.
Me:
My mum:
Me:
Finally my mum answers her and I carefully navigate the conversation to less awkward matters, until Ebere left us alone. Then my mother went into full Yoruba mode and started querying me on why I’d made friends with such a rude girl who didn’t know how to address her elders properly. I could only sputter and apologize profusely. I didn’t know then, the influence cultural differences have on how we relate with people. In hindsight, I may have embarrassed Ebere’s mother on several occasions by dropping to my knees to greet her and addressing her as mummy. Maybe she also asked her child in private, why she’d made friends with a weirdo.

Yoruba people can survive on respect alone for years. If famine were to strike Nigeria today, I have no fear that the Yoruba race would survive because we’d never run out of respect.

Which makes it all the more hilarious that we’re a race of very rude people. Respectfully rude, of course. Only a yoruba person addresses you with deference before proceeding to cuss your generations out.

“Sir, it’s like your head is not correct.”

“Mummy, if not that you’re old enough to be my mother, I’d have said you’re very stupid.”

“Uncle Jude, are you mad? Are your ancestors mad? Don’t you want your parents to reap over you? Are you sick?”

“Aunty Bisi, it’s not your fault that you’re a prostitute. It’s your careless mother that let a dog eat your placenta.”

When all is said and done, Sir, Mummy, Uncle Jude and Aunty Bisi, having been thoroughly disrespected today, would not be surprised to find you on your knees tomorrow morning as you greet them. Respectfully, Yoruba.

I’M ALL ABOUT ME.

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In my teenage years and early twenties, I cared so much about what people had to say about me and how they perceived me. I wanted to be seen and accepted as a good girl, even though I wasn’t necessarily good.

The result was that I kept repressing my true authentic self while I built this facade that was socially approved by my parents and the general public.

Those where the most miserable years of my life. Choosing to please my parents, friends, church members and my extended family at my own expense cost me. I lost myself and made so many bad decisions that it was only by the unseen hand of God that I was able to turn my life around and get my life together. For the most part.

I wanted to be the golden child so bad. Every time my parents yelled at me or beat me for something, whether it was my fault or not, and having been denied the chance to explain myself consistently (there was nothing you could tell my pops that wasn’t a cock and bull story when you’re being punished for an offence, real or imagined), I’d cry for days and then make sure never to repeat the act or place myself in circumstances that could get me blamed for what I didn’t do. You couldn’t fault me on the same thing twice. Never. I cry and I improve.

But inside, I was wilting.

I wanted to be the best friend to someone so bad. You see, I don’t have roots. Don’t get me wrong, I know my ancestral lineage and all that fooferaw. However, personal relationships have been difficult for me. They still are. The underlying reason is that we moved around a lot. My very first best friend that I remember clearly is Funmilola Adeleye. This was the Kaduna years. It was with her that I first began to giggle over inane things, like boys who sent us love letters and packets of Malta and Buttermint sweets. Would to God that I could revisit those simple times.

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But, life just does its own thing. If it favours you, lucky you. If not, you will deal. So it was that our parents had a  falling out, and then she left for secondary school in another state. I wrote and wrote but she never replied my letters. I was a sensitive child and at nine years old, losing your friend isn’t a day at the beach. Even though my school friend Joke Ayeni was a close second, Funmi was like my soul sister.

In Jos, Ruth Gambo was my best friend. We did everything together, and even dragged our parents into the friendship. We slept on the same bed in the hostel and I was in her class so often that many students believed I was in the ‘D arm’ instead of ‘B’, which was my original class. I haven’t seen her since the 4th of July, 2002. I have tried to find her, to no avail. I spoke to her once in 2011 and then my village witches deleted her number from my phone. I can’t explain how it vanished otherwise. She never called me back. Another soul sister lost.

I do not care to write about the Kogi years. Suffice to say I made no friend and everything that could go wrong in my life and that of my family, did.

I did not make genuine friends in Ilorin till I got into the university. There I met Yetunde, Tomi, Latifah, Korede, Fisayo, Tejumola and Aramide. Some of my best memories were made with these ladies. Twenty children however, cannot play together for twenty years. We have all gone on to answer our fates and a few hellos a few days of the year have had to suffice.

Since then, I have made acquaintances. No friendships in the real sense of the word except for Bablo, bless his heart. The silver living in this is that my sister has become my best friend. Took a little too long to get there but I’ll not have it any other way.

The crux is that I find it difficult to make friends and when I do, I try my utmost to give my all. Sometimes at the expense of pleasing myself.

I tried to be the golden girlfriend but no man deserves to have me rant over him and that’s that about that.

As I approached my thirties, something in me snapped and I ran out of fucks to give. You could be all about me and I’m all about me, too. No more shall this daughter of Zion jump through hoops and risk getting burned while the foul mouthed public screams ‘who sent you?’. No one did and I’m not sending myself either.

The amazing thing about this decision is that I am now able to love those I genuinely care about unreservedly. Because I have learned to put me first, whatever I do for you or however I choose to share myself with you is borne out of love and not a sense of duty. I have learned to say no if it will make me unhappy. Life may be short, but I’m here for a swell time and a long time.

ONCE UPON A TEMPORAL CHERUB.

I will try most things, once, before I say never. Which is how I found myself at a Cherubim and Seraphim vigil service. The first thing that struck me was that, for a white garment church, they were a filthy lot. Their garments belonged with a gang of labourers unloading ships at a port, and not in a house of worship. The white in the garment had long lost the battle to Mr. Colour Brown. That brown colour that you get when you pour Cowbell Chocolate in water. Absolute Filth.

The vigil began at 12 midnight, and the service leader called for praise and worship. In Nigeria, I have come to understand worship (as practised by pentecostals), as slow and solemn songs while praise is characterized by vigorous and boisterous songs.

Well, Pentecostal praise is Cherubim worship. I mean, the entire church ad-libbed, the bells, drums and sekere* going on at full throttle while four women screeched into the microphones they held. Worship.

I can’t begin to describe how raucous the praise session was. It certainly felt like everyone, excluding me, of course, were throwing everything they could lay their hands on at the wall. Somehow we moved to singing hymns and we sang six at a stretch, spiced here and there with popular praise songs.

The sermon and prayer session was very sound. Surprisingly so, for me.

Next, the church leader announced we were going into the revival session. A sequined cherub ( I swear this man wore a cassock made from sequins) took charge and began to chant in what sounded very much like Arabic. Slowly he began to build the momentum and the members formed circles of four/five people, each. As the momentum built, they worked themselves into a maniacal frenzy. I have never seen a more energetic bunch in my life. I began to observe individual members and even though we must have been at least a hundred, only one woman was overweight. The other two women who looked chubby were nursing mothers.

I began to see the merits of attending this church. How I’ve been approaching my weight loss goals the wrong way, all my life. I should simply have been born a cherub. The clapping alone will give me ‘Michelle Obama arms’ in a month.

DO YOU KNOW WHAT KIND OF SENSEI LEVEL DRUMMING YOU HAVE TO UNLOCK FOR IT TO BE ACCEPTABLE FOR YOU TO STRIP TO YOUR SINGLET INSIDE THE CHURCH? Don’t tell me to stop shouting, please. You weren’t there.

I suddenly pictured the drummer in COZA or DAYSTAR drumming with so much holy ghost power that he removes his jacket, tie and shirt. Inside the church. I really worry about what goes on in my head sometimes.

A particular circle of dancers looked like UFOs hurtling toward earth with a mission to destroy everything in their path. The huge sweat drops that watered the floor would have sunk just as comfortably as David’s stone into Goliath’s forehead. They remind me of why a club scene isn’t my thing. Why anyone wants to dance with sweaty strangers is beyond me.

Anyway, those who successfully work themselves into rehabilitation-centre-worthy frenzy are guided to the front of the church to prophesy.

And I am left wondering, if the missionaries who introduced Christianity into Nigeria, in their wildest imaginations, ever thought it would come to this.

But variety, not content with spicing life, has Nigerian Christianity in its death grip.

Ogo fun Olodumare. Iye.

*sekere is a musical instrument- a gourd on which beads are woven and is particularly favoured by the Yorubas.

PARANOID CONSPIRACY THEORIST: PART 2

Married folks, especially the women, always want you to join the club. It is their natural calling to fix up all their single friends/sisters/brothers until everyone within a thousand mile radius of them are married. And so begins the tedious process of getting you hooked with blind dates, whom they assure you on every occasion, is your star crossed lover.

I am Jenny, and this is my story.

I do want to be married. Life is too short to not have that special someone to live it with. I love love, in all it’s variations and even though I had this phase where I was angry with the men folk, I have learned to accept responsibility for my actions and the decisions that I took and I’m still taking. So I forgave those who hurt me and I forgave myself. But I digress.

In a bid to fast track the Mrs title, my number was given to a fellow by someone dear to my heart, without giving me  prior warning. Now, I usually do not respond to such situations well, but there was something about the text message the fellow sent to me that was so compelling and sweet and oh so sappy. So I called this fellow back and we had a jolly good time talking. I think the first call ended after two hours and forty minutes. The long calls became a ritual. If we didn’t talk at all, we would spend forty minutes just yapping away. We talked about everything and nothing. The rest of the time, we were chatting on bbm. We would talk deep into the early hours of the morning, at work, in the bathroom, the shopping mall, the kitchen. It was pure, simple and beautiful. It was fast, heart racing and volcanic.

It happened that he was already scheduled to go on leave about the time we started talking, so he suggested traveling down to see me. I couldn’t remember the last time I had been that excited about anyone. And so the countdown began. The closer the day got, the more excited and impatient we were. Until the night before the day he was scheduled to arrive. Somehow there had been a lull in the conversation and my spirit was heavy. I knew something was wrong but I wished it away. No matter what I did, I couldn’t get myself to cheer up. So I went out for a while and left my phones behind at home. I returned two hours later and found a message waiting for me on bbm.

‘DO YOU HAVE A CHILD?’

I felt the slap, the cold water, the burning heat, the stars, I felt them cascading down on me all the same time. I wanted to die. But I didn’t. Instead, I replied.

‘WHERE IS THIS COMING FROM?’

So began this long narrative about how his mother is a Cherubim and  Seraphim member. How they have a prophet they consult for all their dealings. How he told his mother he was traveling to go see a lady and she asked him if he had consulted the prophet. How the consulted prophet told them I either had a child or I’d once been pregnant. I asked him how this was relevant to the journey and he said the prophet wanted him to weigh his decision in order not to regret it and to make sure I was not concealing any information from him. He added that even his father told him not to come because their family does not marry from my part of the country.

At this point, I unleashed the fury of a thousand demons on him. I asked him why his parents thought they could sit in judgement over me, based on a matter in which I had no choice. I wanted to know if they were telling God that his decision to have me come from a particular place was a tacky one. I wanted to know what was so See special about them that made them so discriminatory. I was unrelenting in my questions. I was so very broken. Tears of anger and frustration flowed freely. He tried to placate me by chalking his parents’ decisions to tribal bias. And how our children can mend the bridge. I told him I would never let my children anywhere near a people who choose to discriminate based on stupid myths and legends instead of dealing with a person as an individual.

DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS BEAUTIFUL BEAUTIFUL MAN SAID TO ME?

‘What if I told you there was no prophet and my father never said anything  and what if that was just an excuse to stop me from coming and I didn’t know you’d take it so hard because people discriminate against tribes all the time and I know you’ll want to get married soonest and I have a two year plan which I’m yet to achieve which in turn prohibits me from marrying and in any case I want to relocate to Australia by next year and I have exams to write this year and I’m still looking for a place to rent and furnish and from what you’ve told me of your family you all have strong personalities and I don’t want trouble and your mother would pressure you to marry and then you will pressure me and we would start fighting and then we would separate and I have would have wasted your time and you’d be hurt and that’s what I’m trying to avoid and I can assure you that I didn’t arrive at this decision lightly because I prayed and do you pray too because I think if you pray God will send you another man because all I’m trying to do is avoid hurting you’.

Forgive the lack of punctuation, but it was a lot to take in. It was a lot to type too.

All I could mutter in response was whether I had proposed marriage to him. I stopped picking his calls or replying his messages. Then one morning he sent me a message that I’m incapable of a rational and logical reaction. He said he perceived that my past experiences had made me a bitter emotional person who could not let go of her past.

I am wondering, as you are, what my past had to do with any of this.

PARANOID CONSPIRACY THEORIST: PART 1

They say a person is a reflection of what/whom they attract, but I cannot bring myself to accept this ridiculous fallacy. If it were true, I would be attracting emotionally unavailable men who have unpredictable mood swings, crave their space and only want to hang out with you on their own terms. Probably not even then.

Having said that, I do not understand people who behave abominably towards you and expect you not to react. I will proceed to show you an example, or two.
Dave followed Jenny on Twitter. At the time, they were both in their final year in the same school but they never met. However, they exchanged numbers via dm and kept in touch on WhatsApp. They both looked forward to a meeting and the chance presented itself a few days to their convocation ceremony. The meeting was very awkward for both of them, not least because Dave had this girl virtually glued to him. He barely exchanged a few words with Jenny, who read the situation correctly and decided to act accordingly. She let him be with his girlfriend.

However, they kept up with the conversations on WhatsApp and regular phonecalls, even as they served their fatherland in different states, with Dave in the South West and Jenny in the North East. Before the end of their service year, Jenny traveled to the west twice and on both occasions, she spent a few days with Dave. I suppose the sex was inevitable. Dave was still very much with his girlfriend and Jenny was too proud to have the ‘WHAT ARE WE?’ conversation, so she put it down to a friends with benefits situationship . On the second visit, they parted on less than friendly terms, mostly because Jenny blew a fight out of proportion.

For a long while, communication between them ceased. They both completed their service year and settled in different parts of the country. Dave started calling Jenny again but the calls were sporadic because Jenny’s reaction was always lukewarm and non committal. This pattern continued for a little over a year. One day, Dave sent a message via WhatsApp that he needed to talk to Jenny. He said he loved her and he had never met a girl like her. He said that his girlfriend had admitted cheating on him twice and he thought he could get past it, but he couldn’t. He said he very much wanted to be with Jenny and it was a relationship he wanted for keeps.

Jenny agreed to give it a try. But it seemed to her that the conversations didn’t flow. It seemed that there was a tab being kept for who called first or who sent a message last. It was anything but two people who were genuinely trying to be together. The conversations became a sort of duty for Jenny so she could avoid the ‘why the lack of communication?’ questions and the accompanying explanations that never rang true.

In all this time, Dave had a very public relationship with his girlfriend on twitter. You know, the gummy girl from way back who had cheated on him twice. Her header image was of her and Dave gazing into each other’s eyes adoringly. They constantly tweeted relationship goals at each other and you couldn’t tell from their tweets that there had ever been a cheating allegation, much less an admission. You would never have guessed that he was in another relationship. You would have thought that he would have nothing to say to a woman he claimed had cheated on him twice. It would make sense to you, wouldn’t it, if he asked her to take the header image down in order to stop misrepresenting the situation to the public, if indeed he had moved on. Would it not puzzle you that he would retweet pictures of her and label it ‘my squad’, knowing fully well that Jenny follows him and is not blind yet, whether from age, jealousy or rage, and can therefore read his tweets? Surely, the strangest reply you could get to the question ‘why are you still her header image?’ is ‘how is that my business?’. I suppose there is no need to man up and choose between gummy and Jenny and then stick with the choice. I suppose Jenny finally losing it and telling Dave off is enough to be labeled a paranoid conspiracy theorist. I’m sure that Dave’s refusal to, at the very least, produce an explanation, is such a fine exemplary behaviour, worthy of emulation. It is my conclusion that a lying, cheating devil is easier to stick with than a woman who just wants total commitment. I mean. You’re paranoid and formulating conspiracies in spite of all the evidence just tweeting itself everyday.

I suppose it’s too much to stick out your neck, even a little, for the woman you love. But this is just me, giving an example.

HOW BECCA LOST HER GROOVE

Hi everyone,

I had a little time on my hands this morning and so I decided to write again. I wish I could say that the long hiatus would never happen again, but I’d be lying, to you and to myself. So I hope you enjoy my posts anytime I put them up. Thank you.

P. S: I’m Becca. It’s the only derivative from Rebecca that I can live with. Rebecca is my baptismal name. Now I’m just rambling. Enjoy the post.

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I have always wanted to be ‘funky’. You know, a fashion icon, great dancer, clothes horse, shoe freak, purse addict, club hopper, party freak, globe trotter and a world acclaimed big girl, but especially the party freak. I don’t even know if funky means any of these things, but it was what I wanted. I hoped to achieve all of these too before graduating from the University and I would have gone on to be all of these things (I do not see them as achievements anymore) and more if life had not dealt me one party too heavy.

It was the year 2007. I was having the time of my life in the University. I had not a care in the world; indeed I took life for granted and assumed that I could take all that the universe had to offer just by stretching out my hand.

The week before my disastrous party happened, I had just attended my first ‘night party’ and only one word can sum up my experience- overwhelming. There were huge trays of cookies everywhere, so huge a battalion of soldiers could have sworn a feast by them. Alcohol and juice flowed so fast you could have waded to the other side of town in it. The DJ had excellent music on lockdown and there was an endless array of boys to dance with. I whined and twisted my waist so good that if Sadiku of the Lion and the Jewel had been present, I would have danced circles around her. The best part, it was a Friday night so I had the whole of Saturday to sleep in. Good times, I tell you.

The following week, I got invited to another night party, this time with my friend and roommate, Tomi. I forget now if the party held on a Wednesday or Thursday night, but I do recall that we had a test the next morning. But really, why read for a test when you can party? I was determined to have even more fun at this party than I had had at the last one. At least that was my frame of mind until the night of the party. Tomi and I suddenly developed cold feet and we decided not to go. We pretended to be asleep when our host came to check if we were ready but chickens that we were, we couldn’t tell her that we had changed our minds so we got dressed and went with her. The ensuing events were, needless to say, surreal.

Event 1- The endless wait for the convoy to arrive. Obviously, the wait wasn’t endless or I would still be there, waiting. But it was an absolutely long wait. First, we had to wait for the guys to pick babes from all the hostels scattered around school. Suddenly, it was 11.05 pm and the school gates would be locked by 12 midnight. Our designated driver decided we had to leave and seven of us piled into the car like the third class compartment of the Titanic ship. And we would have had a smooth sailing if not for…wait for it…

Event 2- The car got faulty. My alma Mater sits on such a huge expanse of land that I’ve sometimes wondered if the land was allocated to the school by a blind man. In those days, the visionary VC had not come on board so more than half of the school was a forest. So this car decided to give up in the middle of the forest. In the dead of the night. With wailing owls and flying bats and chirping crickets. I don’t even know if crickets chirp but I don’t know anyone who cares about grammar in such situations. After some nonsense tinkering and amateur engineering, the boys (we were five girls and two boys in the car) brought the car back to life. By this time, Tomi and I were whispering furiously at ourselves. Need I point out that we had been abandoned by the convoy we waited almost two hours for? Or that it was well past 12 midnight and the school gate had been locked? We had to beg and cajole and flatter and tease and almost roll on the ground before the guards opened the gates to let us through. Look, Django did not suffer.

Event 3- The phone battery of the designated driver died. That night, I learned a very useless piece of information that is yet to aid me since I learned it. We were informed that only the ‘Chiefo’ of a club knows the venue of his club party which was why it was necessary to move as a convoy. He alone had to know because he would have to kill the others if they knew. Not really, but I don’t care for their stupid reasons after seven years. You would think that locating the venue would be resolved simply by calling the chiefo to tell him that we had been left behind by the convoy. But no, his phone battery just had to die. My God!!!

Event 4- We were given a false location. After a number of trauma inducing remedies that still has me trembling in anger, we were good to go. I’m sure you would like to know where we went. I’ll tell you: on an unpaid tour of the state capital for the better part of an hour. Yes, the co-driver had called someone who called someone who called someone who called the chiefo who told someone the venue who then called the co-driver back. But it was the wrong venue because the chiefo probably thought we were trying to crash his party. We got to the faux venue and all I could see was a long line of red cigarette butts like dim lights viewed from a skyline at night. It was a congress of chimneys, I tell you. A waif like babe who rode with us in the car, changed into bum shorts and tied a see through scarf on her chest. I judged her seven years ago. I still judge her today. And when she brought out a cigarette, put it between her lips and lit it up, I was blown away. Literally.

Event 5- We had an accident. Our designated driver magnanimously decided that we had inhaled enough unfiltered smoke to do minor damage so we proceeded to go in search of the real venue. I think at this point he was pretty desperate. I, for one, had fired a million prayers to the throne room of heaven. All kinds of rhetorical questions danced around in my head. I’m sure Tomi was equally miserable. All I wanted at that point was my mother and my bed. I re-gave my life to Christ every minute, imagined sins I had not committed and then asked for forgiveness. Every loophole had to be covered. I was still having my tete-a-tete with God when I heard WHAM BANG WHABANGWHAM NAGZXVCSNSBCGNB. Just like that, the vehicle had connected with a street light pole. Almost 2 am, almost dead, nowhere near the party.

Event 6- We followed some random cars. After we got over the shock of the accident, we chucked it down to one of those things. We must be funky o, ah. And that was when we saw some cars flying on the other side of the road and we immediately flew to join them on that lane thinking that our salvation was finally in sight. Alas, it was not to be. We were almost at the outskirts of a local government about 45 minutes away from the state capital before we discovered that it was a rival club that was partying in that local government. My temperature was sky high and I was hard pressed to use a lavatory. I’m sure you know Django and I’m telling you, he didn’t suffer.

Event 7- We finally found the venue by sheer stroke of luck and it was a gay party. I do not have anything against gay people. By all means, do whatever/whoever you want. But can you imagine a party where the boy/girl ratio was 8:1? Yes, I can imagine on your behalf because I tell you, that’s exactly how few in number the girls were. To make matters worse, the dance floor was wet with God knows what, the DJ played the same song every ten minutes and the dance floor was so small that all the bodies were jammed tight like Apapa traffic. I told Tomi there was no way in hell I was going to let any of those boys come near me. We decided to go look for a quiet spot to chill.

Event 8- We saw all shapes and sizes of penises, and they didn’t even ask for our permission. They simply came and imposed  the view on us. It was like this- The only place we could get to sit was at the back of the hotel whose hall was being used as the dance floor. There was a gutter there and every few minutes, some random guy would come out to pee and ask why we weren’t partying away. They were too drunk to care if we saw their whatchamaclit or not. I would have stabbed someone if it had occurred to me then, but I was too cold to care and there was no where else to sit. The weather was chilly and we were shivering uncontrollably. Of course. We were scantily clad. The lady who invited us had joined the party by this time. I mean, why would she let dead-weights and killjoys like us ruin her fun? And so it was that we sat there, teeth chattering, inhaling urine and struggling to get some warmth by sharing the veil I fortunately took with me.

Event 9- Our deliverance came in the form of dawn. On the hour of 5 am, we got up to leave for school. We planned to board a taxi but our designated driver begged us to chill till 5.30. He was so sympathetic to our cause that we listened to him. He then dropped us halfway to the school, because he had to return to LAUTECH as early as possible. He had come all the way from Ogbomosho, and for what? I’m yet to understand it to this way. All through the ride, they bragged about how the party had been a success. Only the co-driver disagreed and said the party was a flop. I was too weary to care. I was sleep deprived and I had a test in less than three hours. We got to the hostel, rushed to the bathroom, got dressed and made it to class in time for the test. And I remember now: the party held on a Thursday. We wrote the test on Friday morning after which I headed back to the hostel and slept till Saturday evening. Yes, I didn’t get up except to pee. We even passed the test.

BUT I LOST MY GROOVE. THE END.

MY FIRST WEEK

When I made the call that got me this job, I had no idea that the job would actually fall into place for me. I came down to Abuja a day before what I thought was going to be a rigorous interview. I tried to read a few of my law texts during the journey but I failed woefully. I was too filled with apprehension to assimilate anything. I kept wondering if I had forgotten everything I had been taught in law school. I wondered if I would stutter, or worse still, lose my voice. I sat all through that journey imagining the worst. I didn’t even inform my friends. Just in case the interview fell through. 
BUT IT DIDN’T. I breezed through it and I was asked to resume immediately.
MONDAY
1000 hours. That was the exact time I stepped into the office. I was appallingly late. Yes, traffic contributed a little but the real reason I was late was because I was afraid. All the ‘what ifs’ of the world had gripped me by the neck and shook me violently till I despaired of life. What if I failed to impress my Head of Chambers? What if my colleagues did not like me? What if they don’t like chubby light skinned girls? What if I’m too short? What if my clothes were too shabby? What if my smile appeared to be contrived? What if I hauled ass and just went? And so I made it to the office, only to meet two of the secretaries. All the lawyers had gone to various courts where the firm had matters. I quickly found a spot to charge my phone. I composed a tweet and squeezed the ‘send’ button. (I’m sorry). Around 1200 hours the lawyers started trickling in one after the other. I got a smile here and a hello there. A little later the chief secretary came in to introduce me to everyone. I need not tell you all my worries were baseless and unfounded. THEY ABSOLUTELY LOVE(D) ME. The reception I got was so warm and overwhelming. Two of my female colleagues took me out to lunch and we had a jolly time. Monday was a success.
TUESDAY
I got to work super early. Only to discover I’d somehow dropped my phone in the taxi I boarded to the office. Miraculously, the driver had given me his card just before I alighted so I was able to reach him. In those few seconds before his line rang, there were a billion soldier ants marching in my intestines. The last thing I needed was worrying about a new phone and my retrieving my number/contacts.  But God is good and I got back my phone. This supersedes all office gist abeg. I went home, drained but grateful.
WEDNESDAY
I witnessed the conviction of an ex NAICON commissioner, whom I felt very sorry for primarily because he’s old enough to be my father and I cannot imagine my dad chilling in jail, God rest his soul. His crime was that he used his office to extort various sums of money, totally about 6,900,000.00 from a certain liquidator and receiver. He actually demanded a whopping 50% of the man’s fees. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the monies were paid to him through his wife’s company under the guise of selling cement to the liquidator. You would think that someone so hell bent on taking bribes would not leave a paper trail. The liquidator saved all the tellers he used to pay in the monies, and then reported the ex-commissioner to the then secretary of NAICON who sent a petition to the minister of finance. This led to the investigation and arrest of the commissioner. A plea of allocutus was made on his behalf because each count for which he was convicted carries a jail term of five years. The honourable judge reduced the sentences to three years each and ordered that the sentences be run concurrently, which means that he only gets to spend three years. On that day, I got to realise how badly tribalism has eaten deep into the fabrics of this nation. One of the court clerks, an Igbo woman, daubed ‘Ndi Yoruba’ as a wicked race because the receiver/liquidator (a Yoruba man) dared to have the convict (an Igbo man) arrested for demanding 50% of his fees which amounted to a ‘paltry’ 6,900,00.00 give or take a few. I will leave you to ponder on the irony and stupidity of the statement.
THURSDAY
Nothing worth mentioning happened in court. I spent the entire day wondering when I will stop being broke in my life. All my money currently disappears on transportation and …this rotten fufu life. One day. Soon. It will end in praise.
Aha. A little amebo. I stepped out of the office to go buy an etisalat line and when I returned, I saw this quasi-hot girl (I’m an obvious hater, yeah) sitting in front of one of my male colleagues (let’s call him O). I claimed my seat and feigned non-interest. About 15 minutes later, another male colleague came in (let’s call him K) and the owner of the babe introduced her as his wife (they’re not married though but you know how guys like to gas girls so we  can become stupidly comfortable) whom he’d been dating before he left for his Masters in the United Kingdom. O asked K if he’d met her before and K said ‘no, you keep introducing and introducing’.  Of course the babe latched on to the statement and started to quiz K, who realized he had just put his nigga in trouble. But you gotta love K. He came in a wrecking ball and destroyed his earlier assertion.
Babe; so he’s been bringing a lot of girls here.
K; no oh. I meant that all the guys here (we have about 12 male lawyers) keep bringing in their girls so it’s difficult to remember if we’ve met before.
The relief on O’s face was visible. Babe smiled dazzlingly. She obviously bought the lie. Sharp guy, that K. Not quite 5 minutes later, O hustled his ‘wife’ out of the office. Before colossal damage is  done, I imagine. K then proceeds to inform us that O is engaged to another girl, ring and all. And my homegirl is planning her wedding to a barrister. I really love my Nigerian men.
FRIDAY
Seriously, thank God it’s Friday. Its 0858 hours and I’m the only lawyer in the office. It’s not too early to leave for the cinema, is it? Cheers to the freaking weekend.

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CITY LIGHTS – Chapter 7

CHAPTER 7
‘Abike is an overly confident, wilful child with an undue sense of entitlement. She is also academically disinclined but shines bright when she is the centre of attraction. She needs strict supervision’. This was the first comment ever written on Abike’s report sheet. ‘Oh daddy, you should have listened, Abike mused in her reverie. You should have listened. Perhaps he would have listened, if he had ever learnt to read. Tayo had had absolutely no interest in reading anything except the figures that provided him with knowledge of his ever increasing wealth. Abike’s teachers tried their best to tell him too, but all their advice fell on deaf ears.

These comments had slight variations over the years but the spirit of the message remained the same; Abike was an airhead who only came alive when she got the attention she sorely craved.
With a hollow smile on her face, Abike recalled her first boyfriend. At least he was her boyfriend in her mind and to all intents and purposes. They were both ten years old and in Primary Three. Waleola was not the only male admirer in their class, but the only one that existed for Abike. He was a lanky one for his age, dark skinned with a shy smile that lit up his face whenever anyone could coax a smile out of him. He was also the star pupil of the class. He was the kid all the parents gave a standing ovation every year at the speech and prize giving ceremony. By now, Abike had realized that she had no love for books. But she could appreciate someone who had scholarly inclinations. It helped too that he was a cute kid. And so it was that Abike began to ply him with her wily charms. She responded sweetly to him when their paths crossed- she made sure this was often- and always tried to get him to do her homework. She devised means to always be within his immediate vision. Indeed, Tayo stood no chance against Abike’s schemes. She boasted to her legion of friends that she and Tayo would be married some day. Some of them wanted to point out that she was too young to be thinking about marriage but none dared. Abike’s wrath was legendary and she didn’t spare anyone who crossed her. They stayed friends with her because in her happy moments, Abike was a generous soul. That was her one redeeming quality. She always shared the contents of her heavily packed lunch box with them and even gave them an occasional ‘toro’ to buy sweets with. She had an endless supply of money from her over indulgent father. Every school day, as soon as the bell rang signifying the lunch break, Abike would run to the food seller to buy ‘ewa agoyin’ laced with stew soaked ‘ponmo’ for her one and only Waleola who was all too eager to recieve this daily treat. She would then sit by him and gaze dreamily into his eyes as he gobbled up the delicacy. When he was done eating, she would then ask him if he wanted more. Of course the poor boy did but he never said yes. He thought it extremely impolite to agree to a second helping. Infact, his mother would have given his hide a severe tan if she had been aware that he was a daily beneficiary of Abike’s generosity. But he always accepted it because that was his best meal of the day. His father’s job as a ‘brikila’ paid barely enough to put food on their table. It didn’t help that his father was a chronic drunk who beat his mother silly and left her the burden of taking care of him and his two sisters. His mother’s petty trading was what helped them to get by. Perhaps mama Wale would have gone on to be a trader of renown if she hadn’t had a jealous snake for a neighbour. One week after Mama Wale erected her kiosk and displayed sweets, biscuits, soap and cigarrettes for sale, her neighbour Mama Taofiq had a bright revelation and decided to erect her own kiosk. Of course, this revelation required that she put it up next to Mama Wale’s and sell the exact same things. Every time Mama Wale added new wares to her stock, Mama Taofiq would get another of her revelations to do the same thing.
Mama Wale bore it all with a quiet dignity and saved all her profit for her children’s feeding and education. She had not bought a new wrapper in years and the ones she had were all faded and some badly torn with obvious patches. Her neighbours jeered but she consoled herself with the saying ‘omo l’aso temi’. Wale took in all of this and hated the feeling of helplessness that overwhelmed him every time he looked at his mother. He was determined to put an end to her sufferings at the earliest possible opportunity. His mother always declined his offer to help at the kiosk. No, my son, she would say. ‘I want to you to work hard at your books so you can be like Asikiwe- at this pronunciation Waleola would smile at his mum and shake his head. He had given up on trying to get her to pronounce the name correctly- and Awolowo and all the those men and women who fought for our indpendence from the white man. When you’ve grown to be rich and famous I will be the one laughing at my enemies’. Waleola kept his mother’s words in his left hand. He never forgot them, not a single one.

I should have held on to him, thought, Abike. Perhaps my life would not now be so empty and meaningless. She recalled how he was he was always gentle with her, young as they had both been. He never had much to say to her, mostly he just smiled in response to her endless chatter. The only time Waleola was in his elements was when he held the class spellbound by the ease with which he absorbed his lessons and then vomited it back to them. He loved to teach and often times he would be seen explaining a seemingly difficult topic to his classmates, except of course for those moments when Abike was plying him with ewa agoyin. She idolized Waleola until one day when she insisted that her driver drop Waleola at their house. She was espeecially eager for this to happen so she could drop by for a surprise visit on some weekend. The sight she beheld as they gradually approached Tayo’s wretched street provoked in her a revulsion not unlike the one her mother had felt when she had first laid eyes on Okoko. But Abike had no way of knowing that she had been concieved in an enviroment such as this. Her mother was not there to tell her and her father never spoke of the past. She barely gave Waleola a glance as the young chap thanked her vigourously for saving him the long trek. All she could think of was that he was not fit to be her husband, coming from such filth. As if life had not dealt her enough blows for one day, she got home only to be greeted by the sad news that mama had passed away, almost seven years to the day she first took to her bed. However, Waleola’s betrayal took overriding interest and thus dulled the pain of her loss. From that day onward, she ignored Waleola like the plague. She withdrew all the favours she had erstwhile bestowed on him and banished him from her thoughts. The young boy was sad but relieved. Mama Wale would never have liked her anyway, he told himself.