Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Enough Said, Enough Talk!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Apapa - Kirikiri 2

So! Where did we stop? Ah, yes, so we kicked the sitting preacher and his female train out so we could commence with the most important event of the day – our birthday. Just kidding; we did usher them out but not unceremoniously. By and large the preacher soon came to an end of his message and after the prayer the co-ordinator or host, or compere, who was, incredibly, an inmate, stood at the podium to thank the group for choosing to celebrate its Easter day with them. He was very presentable in his well ironed short sleeved light coloured shirt and dark coloured trousers. He had a large sized head which seemed to tilt this way and that when he spoke and I couldn’t help wondering if he were to lean forward to inspect at his shoes, whether he would be unbalanced by his great head and topple over. I shook myself out of my reverie and paid attention. He was in control of his environment and was at complete ease with the congregation, even the presence of the comptroller – di oga of di prizin – did not seem to faze him as I curiously tried to, as he spoke, imagine what it was he had been convicted for. It had to be fraud or ‘sharp practices’ I surmised because the man was obviously a smooth and educated talker. He spoke very eloquently with the very dry sense of effortless humour typical of the Warri and Sapele people of Delta state; he soon introduced our E Taylor to the podium.
Our man stood up to an uproarious cheer from the entire hall which made Mary and me start, look at each other and turn to observe him more keenly. He walked to the podium, hugged our 'brainy' host, received the microphone, turned around with his head bowed and without saying a word, walked toward us and stopped in front of the comptroller. He began to speak softly, almost inaudibly and began to thank the comptroller,Mr Tunde Ladipo, a very nice, unassuming man with a quiet steely strength about him, for giving him the opportunity to see the people that meant so much him. He began to move towards me and thanked me for taking out the time to make an appearance, moved to his wife seated beside me, took her up by the hand and introduced her to us telling all at the same time that they both shared the same birth date. As he spoke, still softly, making some of us strain our ears to catch what he was saying, he began humming softly to himself inching towards the inmates when he suddenly thrust his right hand powerfully forward and froze as if waiting for a response – it did come. A thunderous roar emanating from three hundred throats deafened our ears. By the time we looked back at E Taylor from the crowd, the sixty one year old man was already crouched in a dancing position as the choir had already struck up the beat that was obviously familiar to everyone else in the hall save us. The man danced with the dexterity of a very dignified P Square duo as the congregation clapped and urged him on. He was such a delight to watch as he cavorted this way and that, making us will the music not to stop. When he held his hands up, too soon if I may add, he began to address the inmates with a fondness that betrayed his beautiful heart as he brought out the reverse birthday gifts he brought them. Even more magnificent than the silver haired titan were the main stars; the inmates and the comptroller himself.

There was a passion in them that could be matched only by children in the way they sang, the way they danced and the rapt attention with which they listened to the various speakers. There was an energy in all of them that reverberated off the walls of the building making us wonder who the real prisoners were; us on the outside or they who were inside, a little reminiscent of Fela A Kuti’s masterpiece “Beast of No Nation” where he questions the veracity of us on the outside calling ourselves free. There was a strange light shining in their eyes, like my grandmother’s goats’ used to whenever their favourite fodder is dangled before their noses, as if every moment they spent in that hall was to be savoured before they were sent back to their dreary enclaves. All inmates, from the most animated to the most docile, seemed to be threaded with the same intense yarn, from the same source and towards a common goal until it hit me, freedom! Freedom was the one thing we from the outside had that they on the inside didn’t. The one thing we took for granted was what these incarcerated men found as priceless as the very air they breathed. It pervaded everything they did; it was in their walk; the nervous energy in their step, their heels barely touching the ground, it was in the way they sang; their faces facing upwards as if waiting to be caught up and away by some invisible force, it was in the roaring ‘amens’ they punctuated the ending of every prayer declaimed and was in the way they followed our every move with their eyes– I suspect my colleague Mary garnered most if not all the eyes in that hall, and rightly so; she is a lovely girl.

I did eventually leave that hall but not before I gave a speech (bowing of course to the venerable Taylor’s gentle prodding), danced till I sweated my shirt darker and had refreshment with the others in Mr Tunde Ladipo’s office. I had in there with strangers, a much better time than I have had out here in years, excluding loved ones of course and as I sit here writing, trying to piece together my thoughts, I ask myself how free I am. Am I making full use of the freedom available to me? What is my freedom for, to ensure that I make my life as pleasurable as I can to the exclusion of others, or is it to make others’ lives better? I find that even with my so called freedom, I am still buffeted from all sides by my obligation to family, friends and society at large, by the desires raging inside me that I fight every single day; desires that fight against the goals I strive to achieve and instead try to steer me towards the very things I abhor. If you ask me, I would say that I think the inmates of that walled prison I visited seem to have a better understanding of the prison they are in than we outsiders do of our wall-less prison out here we carry everywhere with us. I aim to visit that prison periodically even if it is to remind myself of where I am. Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Apapa - Kirikiri 1

A good day to everybody! Immediately I went through the Kirikiri Prison gates I spotted Evangelist Taylor (the good looking white bearded man in the photograph) and another dear colleague and friend of mine, Mary Lazarus waiting patiently for me along the road. E Taylor was particularly pleased to see me and hugged me very warmly and led Mary and I towards the prison gates, my first prison gates.
The gates looked formidable while trying to look friendly and inviting with their fresh paint and casually lounging guards sitting on the gnarled exposed roots of a nearby tree; I wasn’t fooled. I waited, we waited behind Taylor, Mary and I, as if he was our only genuine reassurance that all would be safe with us behind those gates. I didn’t know what to expect to behold behind them. Would a strong heady wave of the stench of unwashed bodies come rolling out to us, or would we be walking through a gauntlet of dark mazes with flinty, beady eyes peering at us from the darkness barely held at bay by dim pools of light provided by even sorrier looking light bulbs up above? To my disappointment a small bye door etched from the gate was opened to us and we walked through to a considerably large cavernous reception hall. It was lit up by the natural light coming from the courtyard about twenty metres away and while not being very well lit, one could not only see that it was spotlessly clean, but one could catch a whiff of the slight pine smell of mango trees hidden from view. We were asked to hand in our phones to an officer behind a mesh wire fence, dashing hopes of sneaking an insider picture or two of the potential goings on within the facility. As we walked in, I glanced at my watch and silently promised myself I wouldn’t stay an hour longer in the place before I left for other more ‘lucrative’ engagements, my conscience suitably elevated from my charitable deed of the month; it was 11.30am. We walked into the courtyard and stopped short, Mary and me.

It was breathtaking. The forbidding walls enclosing the prison were just a fa├žade because a completely different picture lay spread out before us. There were no high concrete buildings with porthole windows and security turrets with armed guards standing watch. It looked more like a prestigious secondary boarding school from colonial times, and the typical prison colours cream and dark green were accentuated by large green mango trees and long rows of low shrubs covered with bright yellow flowers emblazoning the yard with their brilliance. A row of colonial buildings formed a perimeter around well manicured lawns, a modern basketball court, a football pitch and, I’m not sure if a lawn tennis court was present but I could definitely make out a table-tennis table or two. Oh, there was a mosque and a church as well, and into the church we went.

It was a large hall and was filled to capacity with the seated inmates occupying most of the space from the mid front row to the back of the hall. They wore mufti – a military term for civilian clothes, I learnt that from boarding school – and most of them wore poly-foam bathroom slippers. The front row was occupied by about twenty young men in uniform colours of the same printed fabric. They were better groomed than the others and all wore shiny black leather sandals. From the musical instruments before them I could tell they formed the prison choir (would you believe that since childhood I am still tempted to spell ‘choir’ as ‘quire’?). We were ushered to a row of chairs adjacent to the front facing inmates and sat to listen to the preacher.

Interestingly, I noted that the preacher preached a message of hope, not the typical ‘waiting to get to heaven before you get your reward’ but offered hope to not only re-entering the outside world of freedom but also the freeing of the mind from prison and going out to achieve great things. Great men who had once been imprisoned were made examples of: John the Baptist, Joseph, Obasanjo, Mahatma Ghandi; great men who were once vilified as these ones seated were. It might seem inconsequential to some, but for me, it was a huge step in the right direction. It swelled my heart with pride that our government, and private groups actually cared enough for erring citizens to invest in their future through genuine rehabilitating programs aimed at making them even better members of society.

Sadly again, my motor mouth and my love for painting pictures has brought us to another annoying end to this post, but, gladly, even the least hope is not lost as I will be rounding off this story not a later than May the 2nd, the day after tomorrow by hook or by crook. I want to thank you for your patience so far and I would also like to use this opportunity to thank Tracy for her encouraging words plus a huge welcome to my irreverent Formerly Stealth Reader who is still the ‘master’ of stealth as far as I’m concerned. Welcome back to the fold, lost but found sheep – you have been missed. Have a great a day everybody and see you very soon

Monday, April 28, 2014

Apapa - The Journey

A good week to everybody! I sometimes wonder that I may have spoken too soon last week regarding keeping my joy. I have been tested sorely to know if I could really back up my claims I made regarding my sweet joy. I have had feuds with my friends especially my dear Ario who’s still not talking to me. Lola had yet another incident yesterday and is currently at the hospital (mechanic’s – beginning to wonder if I’m being scammed or not by these notoriously wily but short sighted fellows). It’s just one thing on top of the other, The most infuriating thing of all is that no one has lifted a finger to find my two hundred plus daughters who were kidnapped up north except for their parents, well wishers and foreign nationalities who till today are still ‘helping’ us wipe our smeared backsides in full view of the whole world; a case of the outsider actually grieving more than the bereaved. No matter, it’s of little consequence anyway; in a week’s time we’d have forgotten about the heartbreaking story of the hapless early teenage girls carted away far off north to fill violent men’s bellies, and have their bellies filled in return, and thank God it didn’t happen to us, until it does. Like I said before, I’ll vent my spleen, and then grab my joy back.
I had some real joy on Easter Monday last week when I went to visit the medium prisons at Kirikiri in Apapa, Lagos. A friend and colleague of mine, Evangelist Taylor, had invited me to join him in celebrating his 61st birthday at the Kirikiri maxim- sorry, medium prison which I curiously accepted but not without some angst. You see, the Apapa traffic is one I have a serious dread for. This is because being the main seaport of the country, the traffic, owing to the ubiquitous trailer-lorries laden with all kinds of goods, and their drivers who are a law unto themselves, routinely cause traffic snarls all over the place, adversely affecting businesses in the area. It is also important to point out that 70% of these trucks are forty years old or thereabouts, and as a result, are prone to breaking down all the time and consequently blocking traffic. Be foolhardy enough to vie for the right of way with them and you’ll be given a ‘crash’ course on the demerits of fighting with a forty year old truck: no brakes, 75% blind spot, ability to move only in a straight line as every attempt to turn even an inch to the left or right requires al the manual assistance of the driver’s mate, and above all, a very silly and stubborn driver! I say all this to say that I only dared go to Apapa because it was a public holiday and so I knew there would be no truck on the road.

I got to Apapa without incident and drove past very long rows of parked trucks until I realized too late I had made an inadvertent illegal turn at a market square – there were no road signs warning against this error. I only knew about the error from the menacing way the police and LASTMA officers came hulking towards my car, almost licking their lips in anticipation. They didn’t know that one whose buttocks have been stung by a soldier-ant is always cautious of where next he plants them. I leaned forward, my nose almost to the windscreen, grasping the steering wheel tightly with two hands, a fierce look of concentration on my face looking this way and that, as if trying to look for a familiar landmark, a look not unlike that of a sixty year old granny daring to pick her grandchildren from pre –school. I squinted my eyes and tried to look as stupid as possible as the officers pounded their fists at the car for me to stop. One of them even attempted to jump directly in my path but jumped back immediately when he seemed to realize that he might get crushed by this clueless driver who did not even seem to know his bearings. That was how I was saved from paying for some official’s child’s school fees for him.

I finally got to the prison gate and the rest of the incredible experiences I had there, are they not to be written in tomorrow’s conclusive post; this post being in the danger of being excessively long? Be sure to sign in tomorrow to read about Apapa – Kirikiri. In the meantime I leave you all to a glorious start to the week. Have a great day everyone!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Keeping My Joy

I really don’t know what the point of driving a new car in Lagos is any more! Good week everybody! I’m in a very good mood this day of our Lord. Why you may ask. Nothing I say, I just will myself to be in a very good mood because I have seen that it is the only way one can frustrate evil in this world. I know what I’m talking about. It’s as if no one has the right to be happy and content. When I’m done hurling lies at you, walk into your office or place of work and loudly announce how ecstatically happy you are. The first question you’d be asked is the source of your joy; is it the lottery, is it a new promotion, great night with the spouse? Say yes to the former and the evil demon invites itself in either of two ways: first, by your invitation. Everyone, feeling it’s their God given right to share in your good fortune, suddenly remembers how close you used to be and so cajoles or compels you to remember you owe them an obligation to share in your wealth in its entirety – until it is spent. Second, you say no. You’ll find out how one mouth can be more deadly than twenty thousand open graves – and that’s the nice ones. The not-so-nice-ones, well, put it this way. You would be well advised to relocate yourself, your family, aged parents from both sides and leave your belongings so they think you’re still coming back – a self imposed exile from your beloved community

Regarding the latter, the great night with the spouse, hmm, Frieda once told me that if ever the topic of our sex life were to come up among her female friends and her, she would lament my total lack of prowess – in equipment and in vigour – in bed. Laughing, I asked her why she would mock me thus to which she replied that when women see something good in their fellow woman’s possession, they don’t want one like it, they want that very thing that’s been tried and tested. To my mischievous nieces and nephew sneaking to read this piece, sex is after marriage and not before! Uncle Kalu was delirious while writing this piece! Office workers reading this know only full well the perils that come with announcing a new promotion too brashly – brandished daggers stabbing from all sides that would make Julius Caesar’s assassins’ humble with respect. Demons everywhere trying to steal your joy. Like I said before, I don’t know what the point of driving a new car in Lagos is any more.

My poor Lola has been bashed and nudged so many times that if all her nudges were to be likened to love trysts, she’d be branded promiscuous or a victim of abuse – which she is. One would simply look at the paint smudges left on her body and count how many lovers she’s had, and from their colours, racially profile them. In fact were I to go to a body shop to give her a paint job, her body would serve as my catalogue to pick one colour out of the many samples on her person. In Lagos traffic, if you don’t go looking for trouble, it will come looking for you: drivers who feel they’re smarter than everyone else and drive into, and block oncoming traffic, LASTMA officials waiting for whom to pounce on, dreaded police checkpoints lurking under desolate bridges, disillusioned people who, beset by society’s numerous pressures, suddenly walk out into the road to be mowed down by you. Thank God the era of street parties are over. Sometime in the past, while it was still in force, I have had it in my head to park near one of the odious parties, surreptitiously tie a rope to the furthest table to me at the other end, tie it to the back of my car, wait till the guests are served food and drinks, and drive off in the opposite direction. It just never ends.

In conclusion I have found that no one has the right to steal my joy no matter what. Being and staying joyful is my prerogative and no one else’s. If you hurt me or annoy me, I would simply take some time out, rant and rave, deal with the situation and mentally go back to my state of joyfulness; it’s all with good reason I tell you. What’s the point of venting your frustration from an earlier accident on an innocent acquaintance who may have the intention of introducing you to some lucrative deal, or you impatiently brush aside some youngster who has admired you all his/her life, scarring them forever? When I’m in Lagos traffic now, I’m very calm, I don’t fret. I simply toss my impatience out the window, reach into my joy and think all the thoughts I haven’t had time think about; what I’d do if I had a helicopter, what if a meteor came crashing down to earth, how best I should play this role or that, what would make a good story, why is the blacked out SUV in front of me bouncing up and down, are there empty bottles in this car should I need to ‘go’? Point is, a positive outcome can never be the offspring of a negative mind so guard your heart with all diligence for out of it flow the issues of life. Have a great week everybody

Sunday, April 6, 2014

When I'm Dying

When I die, bury me in a frozen lake of ice! Don’t mind me jare, I’m just mimicking 2 Chainz and Kanye’s song “Birthday Song” which I found very catchy, the beat that is. I just can’t bring myself to say “Bury me in a Gucci store” Seriously, is that the highest level we wish to attain, being buried in a famed tailor’s shop? I bow o. Maybe my ignorance is bliss given my deaf ears to lyrics of the songs I generally listen to, or does my subconscious mind pick up more than I am aware of? If they were lyrics about what to do with itches and gardening tools – for digging up yams - then yes, that I could understand and make good use of by playing role play romps with my significant other in the bedroom or the sitting room or maybe the kitchen while checking on the muffins or boli (grilled or baked semi ripe plantain) in the oven, or, wait for it, shut up in the boot of the car! See why I love writing? It sometimes dredges up things you never knew lurked in the recesses of your mind. Two things I’d have to keep handy to safely accomplish that feat though: my car keys (remote car locks of course) and a sound theme of a large dog’s bark to be activated in the very likely event of an attempted car theft Hmm, stringy meat to chew on another day. My meat for today is yes, a little off the beaten track but no less important to yours truly, the way I would like to die.

When I die and how I’d like to die are of little concern to me as whatever puny control I may exercise over the when and how of my demise may only be effected through prayer or due diligence regarding my security and lifestyle. What I would like to do at the point of my demise is a matter I have given my imagination free range to roam to its heart’s content. I have come to accept that there is, and may remain a childlike and playful side to me, and I would love to keep it that way till I’m a hundred, hopefully plus. At the moment, to my shame, I have so far only managed to envisage any of the three things I’d like to do just before kicking the bucket, which even so few, still give me a warm glow on the inside.

Like the Okinawa residents in Japan, I would love to still shag my wife at a hundred and two years old, and she, mmm, maybe between eighty two to a hundred years. Of course by then we’d have sensibly begun investing in lubricating gel, strictly to jumpstart her of course, and I, by God’s divine will, will still be rising to the occasion on demand, give or take an hour or two of prompting or stimulation, at this point, of any kind, oral or any sensible otherwise. Anyway the meat of it that we’d have been at it for any length of time ranging from four minutes to thirty – yes, I am that ambitious, the software program chosen being the lovemaking application so I can remember she’s the woman I love who has borne me these wonderful initially troublesome children who have left us to our rapturous delights and our unfathomable petty squabbles – the kind no one dares intervene in the knowledge that both of us are just looking for an excuse to have make up sex - I digress. She’s busy with her electric toothbrush buzzing away downtown between us, her wrinkled face – still as beautiful to me as the day I married her – distorted in concentration and I roger on as manly as possible, LLCool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out” playing in the background to aid my rhythm and vigour until she stiffens suddenly and begins to let out an almost eerie low but slowly rising moan as my own fever begins to take over me in paroxysms of blurred vision, my glasses almost falling off my nose, convulsions radiating from my loins as they take over my body in ever powerful waves as now a hundred million half lives course their way up from my bejewelled orbs, my centenarian roar sounding like it’s coming from the adjoining room as we cling to each other in our torturous bliss as we are suddenly levitated to celestial transports, God’s throne. Oblivious to our new environment, we look at each other and gasp, “Wow, that was some banging!”, before we notice our celestial surroundings, angels and all, and I, seeing the Almighty and quaking with fear, blurt out, “Banging at, sorry, on Heaven’s door!”. Sharrap all of you, it’s not blasphemy; we widowed each other in matrimony!

Second, I’m at my deathbed in my home hopefully and not the hospital, still at a hundred and two, surrounded by my wife (she should outlive me – I love being pampered), children: biological, in-law and adopted, grandchildren and hopefully the greats. I call our children to draw closer to me for the last blessings and admonishment. As I bless each one and their future genealogies, I punctuate each blessing by spitting into their open mouths, yes there is an Igbo community where this form of father-child blessing has long been practised – and, hehehe, you never deny a dying man his wish. I would have made it seven spits per mouth but that would be greed, and I may expire before getting to the third child, besides I don’t know how much saliva I’d still be able to muster at that ripe age so I’ll dispense my treasures sparingly.

Thirdly, if God tarries His hand at taking me away to Him, I would bless the rest of my beloved gathering and save the last for the one most alike to me in personality or maybe the youngest. I would call him/her to me very lovingly, pray for the beautiful child, bless him/her with a tremulous voice and trembling hands, give him/her some life serving advice and ask him/her to put his/her hand under my thigh as they used to do in biblical times. When they obey me, I’ll ask them to move it up further a bit, just under my bottom whereupon I’d take a deep breath and unleash the most ferocious fart I can muster. Hopefully the force generated will be enough to propel my soul and spirit from my body to eternal bliss leaving behind a mischievous grin on my face. I must remember to maintain a strict diet of raw broccoli and beans for when the beams start to tremble and the bulb starts to dim to give me enough wind for my sails- note to self.

My point here is who says dying can’t be fun? It is inevitable so why not, instead of being so petrified all the time of it, have fun with it and making your exit as memorable as possible, both here and beyond? Cowards have the misfortune of dying many times before their death but the creative ones have the luxury of enjoying theirs many times before it comes. Death is naught but a gateway so I enjoin everyone to enjoy this life, its passing and the life beyond this one. Have a great week everyone and don’t forget to eat your fruit and veggies!.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Seven times out of Ten!

Good week everyone! It’s a beautiful day I see outside my window, the morning sun peeping through my dark blinds and even the melodious sound of a (I-don’t know-what) bird trills above my neighbour’s noisy generator. Yes my friends, I’m sorry I have to drag you into my now cantankerous and no-electricity morning but as they say, there’s love in sharing. Ah bless! The power just came back. I tend not to praise my local power company when they give us the power we actually pay them for, it being their job but the main reason I never praise them is I found that any time I praised them for a job well done, a range of two to twenty hours of power in a few days, I’d end up not having any at all for the next four days, and this has happened seven times out of ten. I now see the genesis of superstition, tradition and culture. I actually like this topic – I was going to talk about my misadventure at my friend’s dad’s funeral in Ebutte Metta, Lagos but I suddenly want to try making some sense of this in my head and throw it out to you my folks.

The majority of us, if not all, tend to follow tried and tested, sometimes handed down formulas that lead to successes ranging from immediate gratification to reaping profits from long term investments, personnel and material.. Once these endeavours succeed seven times out of ten, they are likely to be adopted as a winning formula and then a tradition and consequently culture. A man driven to distraction by hunger and seeing no other way out of his predicament than to burgle a house for the first time in his life weighs the cost of his intentions. He prays to God to understand his predicament and to shield him from discovery and shame, to understand that he only need fill his belly and nothing else. He embarks upon his desperate act and ends up not getting caught. The euphoria of his success drives him to try another venture, and then another with resounding success; a winning formula is born – until he is eventually nabbed.

Take my new found ‘superstition’ as an example. When I praise the power company for transmitting uninterrupted power for a whole day – a rarity in these parts and find that seven times out of the ten I praise them for their services, I suffer blackouts for an unusually extended period of time, I would subconsciously or otherwise, sense that some indescribable force is against me praising the company for its services and doing so would be to my detriment. I would therefore, from then on, refrain from praising any improvement on services provided by the company lest some dark force comes along to snatch away what little service I have hitherto enjoyed and plunge me into its fraternal darkness. I ‘learn’ not to acknowledge any strides the company makes to improve upon its services, however phenomenal, for fear of being let down, and I subsequently compel my family to adopt this ‘secure’ and ‘proven’ tradition. We thus learn a culture of criticism and cynicism through our ‘tried and tested’ tradition of non gratitude and non encouragement; and if some bemused outsider, perplexed by our culture of negativity, asks us why we never acknowledge the laudable efforts of our service providers, we smugly reply that it is to ensure the status quo remains the same so that we never regress; and argue further that the culture of criticism is actually a form of reverse encouragement to our service providers. If then this tradition works out for us better services, or at worst keeps us in status quo, what is to stop us from applying it to other aspects of our lives. A dear friend travels through the treacherous roads from Benin to Lagos upon hearing of your hospitalization bearing the Benin fruits and Auchi groundnuts you love so much, huffs and puffs his/her way round to your bedside to give you a hug to which you, with ‘good’ intentions, ask what took them so long without so much as a word of thanks because you know you’re encouraging them to do better – seven times out of ten.

One of the greatest gifts we have as human beings is the power of individual thought even though most of us rarely utilize it for fear of drawing the ire of, or standing apart from others. Almost as crippling is our unwillingness to ask ourselves the plain truth no matter how painful it may be. Hence we sometimes go through life holding tenaciously onto outmoded beliefs and traditions of yore handed down to us by our forefathers or parents or even by our own hand. I think one should assess and evaluate whether their tradition is taking them to the destination they are going or drawing them back. If it is then all well and good, and if not, then they should know it is in their power to either amend it to suit their purpose or jettison it outrightly. We oftentimes abuse much of the power we have by being too afraid to exercise it to our hurt. Tradition and culture were made for man and not the other way round. Have a great week everyone!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Valentine's Day in Lagos

A good week to everyone! The 14th of last month was Valentine’s day and thankfully, on that day, I happened to be working in the midst of a wide range of extremely beautiful ladies, from slight/slender to the outright BBW – big beautiful women – but sadly, like the proverbial man who, carrying watermelons under each arm, trudged to the watermelon market with the very intention of buying more, I simply resigned myself to admiring, or ignoring the fruit on display. I haven’t had a Valentine’s day date in Lagos in such a loooong time, and if I ever do, it will definitely take the planning of a wedding of feuding families to effect it. Why?

You and your significant other decide to give yourselves a full Valentine’s day treat by planning to see a long anticipated movie and then wine and dine at your favourite restaurant with a view to ending ‘tins’ with a bang, or maybe something slower with more emphasis on the romantic. You both kiss each other your goodbyes as each one, or one of you, goes off to work, with promises or assurances that you will meet at an agreed rendezvous from whence you’ll commence your amorous itinerary for the rest of the evening. Everything going on around you in the office, from the commencement of the business day to the pm still in its toddling stage, only serves to bespeak just how deeply the goblet of love will be drunk: the office secretary suddenly squealing in delight at a couriered package, the office aloof beauty whose desk paraphernalia, desktop computer inclusive, have to make way for the legion of love cards, love cakes and love wines to be displayed. Even the normally routinely dreary office lunch gets a love lift of its own with jollof rice on the menu being served with heart shaped dodo – fried ripe plantain slices -, softer cubes of beef and the sweating and unusually overly made up dinner lady serving up extra helpings of meats with coquettishly batting eyelashes, to the object of her affection, who’s studiously oblivious to her advances. Then the magic hour, 3pm, strikes, your cue to rush out to meet your object of desire.

You grab your presents, your laptop bag and oh, your car keys, start out, stop abruptly to cast a cursory glance at your desk to check that you haven’t forgotten anything and with a parting general farewell to any who cares to listen, you dash out to your waiting car, phone to your ear warning your sweetheart she’d better not be up to her usual tardiness. With ears pushed to the back of your head on account of a beaming neon smile, you generously tip the security guards, hop in your car and drive out into the largest car park in the world, Lagos traffic! Add to that the mobile phone network jam reminiscent of the wee hours of New Year’s Day and you can be sure whatever cracks existed in your relationship in the previous weeks will metamorphose into yawning craters. You try unsuccessfully to call her, your eyes still on the banner by the traffic lights you’ve been staring at for the past three hours of sweltering traffic and she, her frustration building, remembers that picture of you with the office beauty, her arms wrapped suggestively around your waist, your strident denials of unwholesome behind-the-door liaisons, and your delay and ‘switched off’ phone only serve to confirm her niggling doubts. You finally get to her office block and as you’re driving in you espy her chatting amiably with a small group of junior staff. You park nearby directly in line of her vision and call her cell phone and miraculously this time, it does go through. She doesn’t seem to hear her phone ring because she carries on her conversation regardless, her laughter ringing out louder and above everyone else’s. You finally get the hint after the third ring and humbly exit the car to walk to her. As you reach her she suddenly exclaims to the crew she has to go straight home on account of a blinding headache and swiftly turns around and sashays towards the car leaving you bemused with no choice but to give your onlookers a brave smile, grab whatever is left of your self control and apply a step after the other towards the car. In the course of the silent drive home, you seething with rage and she fixated on her phone and its incessant annoying message beeps, still have some presence of mind to stop over and grab a bottle or two of ‘bubbly’ or her favourite wine and…

Far be it from me to go delving in other people’s private lives, so, on that note I will have to end here. But, would it be so bad if, even if the wine is not drunk and you both cart your icy weather to bed with you, she unusually clothed and facing the other way, you surreptitiously sidle up to her to gently spoon her, your free arm creeps around her hips and navel, and upwards to the soft globules you know so well until she deftly but gently moves it away. You, feigning resignation, sigh, kiss her left shoulder and relax in the first throes of slumber. A moment of silence, an imperceptible shift of her rump into your groin and a slow smile spreads across your face. As the ice thaws and the hands fumble, the tent is raised and the stone is rolled from the well’s entrance. As you begin to draw water from the well, you begin to verbalise your indignation at being so poorly treated in the presence of outsiders. She screams out her accusations of putting another before her on such a special day, and it’s not clear what passion she’s (s)creaming) from but you know it prompts you to draw water faster and faster as you both argue back and forth until she vents her frustration in one long final shuddering scream as she clasps you tightly to herself. An hour later, or considerably less, depending on the ardour expressed and the self control applied, two of you polish off the hitherto ignored bubbly and reminisce on the day while cooking up what excuse to give for not being able to turn up for work the next day. Valentine’s Day in Lagos might not be such a bad idea after all. Have a great week everyone

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Hiatus!

A good week, or should I say good year to everybody! It’s been such a long time and yes it’s been all my fault so please feel free to pelt me with all the rotten fruit within grasp – keyword being ‘within grasp’. It’s been so long, almost two years since I wrote my last post and it seems like it's taken twice as long to get back on track. I know the question on everyone’s lips, “What kept you away for so long?” I understand, even I am asking myself that question.

I have been going through a life changing experience over the past two years, change that took me completely by surprise, not by accident, but by my constant relegation of needful things to be addressed to the background of my mind. My relationship with Frieda is not what it used to be before, to our hurt. Alas this blog that hitherto used to be my therapeutic session where I could air my thoughts as personably as I could has become my albatross; my Achilles heel being my penchant for talking straight from the heart as I see it. How would I be able to write my posts without betraying to you all the anguish I, and Frieda, were going through, even more maddening when I was still trying to sort the conflicting emotions raging within me, differentiating between my ideals and the realities that presented themselves before me, pressuring me to make choices when I was at a quandary? I have habitually always kept my cards close to my chest, not letting anyone observe the way I prepare my soup until the final product is hopefully cooked to perfection. In other words I have kept you all at bay waiting till everything has been sorted out before opening the wide gates to my palace, to my anteroom lined with portraits chronically charting my arduous journey towards building this edifice. That was until I realized I stood the risk of losing the one channel, apart from my Lord God, through whom I have the luxury of expunging my fears and misgivings, celebrating my triumphs and achievements, however small – my blog and you my wonderful readers upon whom I liberate myself.

I have missed you greatly my dear folks. Being away from here has not been good for me at all. I have missed my ranting, my banter and your hilarious comments appreciating my work, good, bad and the grey areas. I’ve stayed away for so long I feel like I have forgotten to write, to pinpoint those beautiful little quirks we so often ignore in our pursuit of shelter, clothing and feeding; the things that make life worth living. Forgive my lack of literary form in writing this missive; I realized, after months of angst over what and how to write, that perfection lies not in the end product but in the courage and commitment it takes to stick through the process toward it. I care more about interacting and airing my views and experiences, within reason of course. In so doing I aim to make our relationship on this forum a little more interactive than before and I am excited so watch this space! I’ll giving out more details soon; this is a profuse apology for being away for so long. Have a great weekend everybody and very glad to be back!