Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Good week everybody! Thanks for the feedback on my conquest last week. It goes to confirm that we are united in counting our numerous little blessings in preparation for bigger things to come. This week began on a rather funny note; one that that I hesitate to narrate because it shows me in a not very sunny light. Still keen on knowing what I did? Well you’ll just have to be patient and hear me out.

It was a lovely sunny Sunday afternoon and I was on my way to a business meeting on the island. It was a rare Lagos that was sprawled before me; there was very little traffic on the road. I was in high spirits as I barrelled down the Mobolaji Bank Anthony way in Ikeja. I like to drive fast; it’s the closest I come to flying. It is almost like if I try hard enough I’ll take off into the air. Well, someday, sometime… Anyway, I was flying towards the GRA intersection while on the phone (with a hands free device of course!) with Frieda arguing amiably over some not-so-good script I’d received some days ago. I looked at the traffic lights which didn’t happen to be working so I slowed down, just enough to be prepared should any vehicle emerge unexpectedly from either side of the road, when I saw at the very last moment a police woman frantically waving at me to stop. I stamped on the my brakes very hard, rending the air with the loud screech of my tyres and smelt the pungent stink of my rubber and brake pads as they wafted past me. She hadn’t been standing in the traffic-signalling booth like she was supposed to so I didn’t see her on time. Try telling that to the Nigerian police when they’re on the lookout for a hapless victim to break the jinx of a boring day.

I looked back at her with the most apologetic smile I could muster, fearing the worst, and was greeted with a surprisingly understanding smile; the kind a mother gives her errant child. I smiled again in relief. Beside her were two other witnesses to the incident, two men who were standing beside a motorcycle that had a flat tyre. Oh, did they go off like rockets?!!! They began shooting their mouths off about arrogant people who have no consideration for others and just think the road is just for them alone. That just because I have a ‘big’ car doesn’t mean I should tread on other people like ants. I ignored them and apologised to the police lady, thanking her for letting me off. That brought another tirade from the duo: “Oh yeah, why not? They think they own the police as well, don’t they? You knock us down and we’ll probably go to jail for staining your car, won’t we?” She waved me on to go. I thanked her and began to move off.

The two idiots who insisted on drinking the paracetamol meant for someone else’s headache weren’t done. “Go on. Don’t stop. Go on and smash…” I lost the rest of what those two girls nattered about but I had by then run out of my tolerance reserves so I put my head out the window, shouted a hearty “F$#@ you” and finished it off with a very forceful five finger (shege) salute to them.
As I retreated into my shell, something made me look at the other side of the road and to my horror I saw a long line of cars waiting at the lights on the oncoming lane, their drivers watching what was going on. I didn’t know where to look except forward and fervently prayed that as little of them as possible would recognize me. Never mind the ear ripping I got from Frieda when I told her what had just happened. I won’t bore you with the details of how she went on about she’d always warned me about the way I should comport myself in public and blah blah blah. Never mind me the aggrieved one, who should let himself be insulted and not say a word back. Anyway, all that is past; I forgive all three of them for they know not what they do!

It is increasingly becoming clear to me what responsibilities are thrust on the shoulders of the public figure. It sometimes seems unfair to me that I have to be the one to work more on restraint and self control than the other party is obligated to, being that the spotlight will invariably land on me should any fracas occur between us. Then again, I am the bigger man and should continue to work on being one. Have a great week everybody and drive safely wherever you go!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Good week everybody. It’s a hot day today, the compressor of my air conditioning system in my bedroom blew like a bomb and the past few nights have been like an unpleasant sauna. I’ve had so many frustrations in the past few weeks but even more blessings. It’s as if every time a door shuts in my face, a barn door opens a few metres away. The funny thing is, those barn doors grow smaller and smaller before finally shutting only for another one to open somewhere else. I guess that’s God’s way of saying “keep truckin’ My son, I know what I’m doing”. Little blessings eh? Maybe that’s why I can’t seem to keep still, like a frog on a hot plate. The difference in my case is that my antsy (ness?) is born of excitement and anticipation - I can’t wait! Now don’t get me wrong. Margaret, a friend of mine, once asked me why I always seemed to be happy and relaxed. I looked at her and smiled. When I have dark days and have feelings of not being accomplished, it is bad. Ask Frieda who has to cope with my moods. I simply focus on what I’m bent on achieving and trudge on emboldened by the many victories in my life against most odds. Besides I have so much to look forward to in this little life of mine which I aim to end well. I suppose one of my latest little victories, which I am so proud of, is my recent mastery of the cooking of my dreaded adversary – beans. It might seem very inconsequential to everyone but I know where my elation comes from.

In a quest to become more independent, and with a view to controlling the quality of what I eat, I recently decided to cut down on eating out most times and do some cooking on my own. I also decided to eat more of plant protein; legumes, fish, veg and fruit like my mother brought us up on. Maybe that’s why I, nor any of my siblings, have not fallen ill (save for colds) in the past twenty years. Hindsight is always 20/20 vision. The way our mum stuffed us with those ‘horrible’ foods; beans, fish and unripe plantain, made me hate those foods with a passion. Eating out was banned – she didn’t trust the hygienic conditions under which restaurants cooked nor did she trust their nutrition. I couldn’t wait to be eighteen and escape to university. It’s only now that I have begun to appreciate her wisdom. No pain, no gain. Ah, my children will suffer! But, I digress. I decided to go back to my first hate.

My first attempt at cooking beans ended in disaster. I valiantly fought to stop it from getting burnt to no avail. What didn’t I do? I turned the heat down, stirred and stirred, poured more palm oil but nothing could stop the onslaught of the acrid stink that permeated my nostrils. The worst part of it was that when I stubbornly insisted on reaping the fruit of my labour, I was betrayed even further; half the beans was soft and the other still hard! How could that be? Was not it the same fire that cooked them all? The same pot, the same ingredients? Or where some more ready to cook than others? If so then why was mine different from others’ I’d eaten? It was after I’d complained bitterly some female friends of mine that I was advised to put onions in the beans to soften them. I was also given some really good tips which I put to better use. The result was glorious! I’d come in from whence I went, open the fridge, pop it in the microwave, go downstairs, chat with the neighbours a while, come upstairs and deliriously drink in the wonderful aroma of the steaming food and mistily wonder who could have cooked such a sumptuous meal! If no one will praise the agama lizard for jumping down from the tall Iroko tree without injury then he will praise himself on his conquest! Have a great week everybody!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Train Journey

Good week everybody and welcome everyone to a new, new day? Anyway no time for faffing about. This week’s post is inspired by some funny pictures I saw on a newspaper site online. The picture was of a lone unattached diesel locomotive engine with about thirty something people hanging unto its many sides. I smiled to myself as I remembered a similar incident I went through when I was still brash, younger and very very silly!

I think it was my third year in university, during the December period with the Christmas season drawing near. As is customary amongst the Igbos we, the whole family, were to travel to our hometown in the east for the holiday’s festivities. However as a big boy, I couldn’t be caught alive travelling with the rest of the family in 'daddy’s' car. I was going to go on my own with public transport days ahead of the rest of the family. Okay maybe it had something to do with the fact that I’d agreed with my partners in crime from other mothers to rendezvous early enough so we could frolic as much as we could before the radar of our parents’ watching eyes descended on us. Anyway I made my case to my father that I wanted to learn as much of our culture as I could as I needed it for a paper I was to turn in for my African literature class. An essential tool a child needs to get what he wants from his parents is knowing their likes and dislikes – my father, a professor, naturally had the quest for learning as his soft underbelly. I was given my transport fare and enough money for my research.

Despite just recovering from typhoid fever I’d caught in school, I began my research with my friends in a bar two days before my journey. By the time our pre research was done I had drunk, smoked – please don’t tell my mum! – and pepper souped my research money to down to less than half its original value. When the day of my travel arrived I realized that I would have to make adjustments as I did not have enough fuel to last me till my parents met up with me in the village. The thrifty side of me kicked in as I realized I wouldn’t be able to afford a straight taxi to my hometown from Enugu and still have enough to play with so I quickly hatched an alternative plan. I would take the cheapest means of transport, the train, to Umuahia and then take a shared taxi straight to my hometown – QED. I quickly went to the railway station and purchased tickets for the 9.00am express train from Kaduna up north and waited. I waited, and waited, and waited till the recalcitrant train trundled in at 8.00pm! The frustration I experienced waiting for the blasted train was nothing compared to the shock I felt on sighting the incoming vehicle. The said train was just one of the three trains that plied that route daily. The first two, for some reason, had broken down leaving the third with the singular burden of conveying the Christmas rush commuters and their goods to their final destination. There were people on all sides of the engine, between the carriages; even the guard van in the rear was not spared – and there was a rush by my fellow Enugu commuters, who had paid their fare, to get on as well. I struggled valiantly to get inside, and finally did but it was a fight in futility. Even the gangway was stacked almost to the ceiling with sacks and sacks of garri, rice and beans; and this was in every carriage! The stench was unbelievable, there was no breathable air and there was the constant screaming of babies as their mothers made futile attempts to calm them down. I jumped back out. It was when I looked up that I saw the perfect solution.

Up on the roof of some of the carriages were silhouetted figures seated against the night sky. They were turbaned from head to toe like live mummies and it made a lot of sense to join them up there since it was fast turning out to be my last option. After a quick assessment I noticed the first carriage had no one on it and, hoisting my travelling bag across my shoulder I clambered up the roof, looked around and settled for an overhead water tank. I fastened the clasp of my bag to one of the tank’s hooks and waited. It was a very nervous mixture of feelings for me; the excited anticipation of a school boy adventure I’d brag about to my friends for days to come, and the fear that it could be my last journey in this world. It didn’t help that a sage old man singled me out of all the silhouettes on the roof to plead with me to consider my loved ones at home and climb down from an impending death. It was a harrowing moment because I felt God was speaking to me through him. I couldn’t turn back – not now. I sat resolute, my heart thudding against my sides. The sharp blast of the train pierced the darkness – the die was cast. I looked back at my compatriots; if they could do it, then so could I – safety in numbers as they say. The train pulled away.

Almost as one every one of the shadowy figures lay back and immediately merged as one with the sloping arcs of the carriages’ roofs. I realised then that I was in the company of professionals. I was numb with fear! I couldn’t lie back with them for fear of falling off the roof so I curled on my side in a foetal ball hooking my arm round the tank hook I had secured my bag on. The cold harmattan wind cut through my flimsy calico shirt as the train began to gain speed leaving me wondering which would kill me first; pneumonia or smashing my head on the gravel rushing by far below. my first assailant was mercifully eliminated by the warm sooty diesel smoke that belched at me from the engine’s funnel ahead of me. I gratefully drank in the oily blackness as my body began to warm to its cloying heat. My gratitude was short-lived as a tree branch brushed against my hips! It didn’t help that it was just a nest of leaves that brushed against me because it only carried with it a foreboding that there were heavier branches to come. The old man’s pleas kept reverberating in my head. I resigned myself to my fate and hurriedly asked God for forgiveness in a desperate preparedness for what lay in the world beyond, in the knowledge that the next clatter could be my last. Strangely enough I never mustered the courage to think of the effect it would have on my family were I to die so ignobly. Would anyone ever find my body on that lonely track? Would it end in a sudden whoosh before the blinding flash deposited me at the pearly gates, under the huge book cowering before the stern Face?

It was with muted sobs that I greeted the sleepy lights of Umuahia five hours later as the horn heralded our arrival at the waking town. I knew then that there is an angel for every foolish child in this world – I was proof of it. The memories pictures evoke in us eh? Have a great week everyone!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Moment in Silence

A good week to everybody. I hope everyone had a wonderful easter weekend. I know I did.
No, mine wasn’t that spectacular but I always make it a point of duty to go visiting my aunts or my married friends to go and stuff myself silly with their food. It’s always begins with the traditional admonishments where I’m mildly chided for not keeping in contact with the family, how much the kids miss me and should I begin playing with the kids, the wistful looks on the mothers’ eyes before they begin telling me about the way kids take to me and how I’d make the best father. Maybe that’s why I always, initially, am reluctant to make friends with children; I fear that that they are a constant reminder of a world I’m steadily and inextricably drawn towards. Okay this is getting boring and I’m beginning to worry that I’m starting to become uncomfortable with the surreal messages my subconscious is surreptitiously passing on to me.

I’m not sure what I want to write about today – matter of fact, I do not have anything to talk about today which almost made me depressed because of the incredible reception I got from last week’s post. Lol. Goes to show that it does pay to run starkers in public once in a while. Thanks guys! Oh, and to the anonymous commentator who wondered if I would ever write about my loved ones’ reactions to my love scenes, I would respectfully refer him/her to a previous article of mine on the same subject:

Wow! I’ve been on this blog for over a year now! I can’t believe I’ve lasted this long. I think I ran out of steam within the first month of writing my posts; it increasingly began to dawn on me that I may not be able to sustain the tempo and quality of the writing I began putting out. I had begun by writing about things I observed day by day, about heartfelt issues and to live up to expectations I could see myself starting to be pushed towards appearing to be caring, intellectual at all costs. It was then that I realised one of the most important assets an artist or writer could have – those little insecurities that tug at our souls, telling us we can’t do it, to try something safe and obscure so we wouldn’t fall too hard when we eventually do. Thing is, the stupid little mites don’t know they can be used by us to our advantage. I decided to write about my insecurities when I felt low or inadequate, knowing that someone somewhere would feel the same way I did and would identify with the way I felt; and even if no one did feel the way I did, at least I’d be showing my real self – no pretences, or at least if they are, they wouldn’t be significant enough to label me a cad.

Alright I think I’ve blabbed enough about nothing but I do feel good about it. Sometimes friends don’t need talk and noise to fill up the silence between them but need toi, at these times, listen to each others’ thoughts in the serenity of the silence. Have a great week everyone and I love you all!