Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Everything about me these days is so safety related. Good week everybody. Yes my friends, I have just finished an advanced course on safety and it’s amazing how quickly it has already begun to entrench itself in my life. It is truly amazing and all encompassing! It’s all about assessing, identifying and managing risk and containing potential hazards and is even relevant in business. I won’t bore you with the details and though on a normal day I’d be tempted to brag about my new found knowledge to you guys, a strange willingness to share encapsulates me and I feel compelled to do the Divine’s bidding. Here goes…

Scenario one. I went to do a job in Abuja and was checked into a really nice hotel somewhere in the Jabi district. The staff was all smiley and welcoming, especially Idara, a very pretty dark complexioned lady from Akwa Ibom state, whose smile outshone the blinding sun outside. I was shown to my room which was on the first floor upstairs and was taken through a maze of corridors, so much so that I wondered if I was ever going to find my way out again. While it was all very well lit, there was an austereness about it – its source I couldn’t quite put my finger to. It was when I got to my room that I saw why I was so uneasy. My room though compact and nice, had no windows and the window in the bathroom opened up to the corridor. I immediately began to feel very entombed. If a fire were to break out I would have a clouded fiery maze to have to blindly find my out through and, who knows, I might even make it. My ‘safety’ instincts and ‘risk management’ skills kicked into place. I quickly called one of the staff and immediately asked for the nearest exit and was shown one facing my door from further down the corridor. Never mind that it opened up to a balcony on the first floor of the hotel, it was good enough for me. At least I would be able to break my fall with the aid of the parked cars below me.

Scenario two. I finished that job in Abuja and boarded a rather crowded plane bound for Lagos. It was so full I could hardly find a place to stuff my bag. I noticed a stewardess at the rear end of the plane gesticulating towards me. Supposing her arm movements to mean I should stow my luggage in any available space, I stashed it in a compartment that contained some oxygenlike tanks and went and sat down. Not long after the plane began to taxi up the runway, and to my surprise, the gesticulating hostess came up to my side. With her face set in icy fury, she hissed that she had been asking me to bring my bag to the rear where she would stow it away safely but instead, I chose to put it in an unsafe place. She then turned around and yanked my bag from the cubby hole I’d put it and dumped it unceremoniously on the ground telling me I would have to get up and look for a safer place to put it and she was not obliged to stow it away for me. I just stared at her balefully, silently daring her to do her worst because there was no way I was going to get up while the seat belt signs were on with the plane still taxiing up the runway. Luckily another steward came to the rescue and stowed my bag under the seat in front of me, quickly diffusing the tense moment. When I simmered down a few moments later, I took time to think why she acted the way she did to me and realised that she may have thought I had understood that she wanted me to come put my bag away at the rear but rather chose not to on account of arrogance while I, on my part, was seething with anger because of her perceived vindictiveness and power drunkenness. How often differing perceptions and subjective thought lead us to many a tussle?

It would be fair to say that safety and management of risk are beginning to form an integral part of my life. It is also amazing how much saving we make regarding cost to lives and property when we make safety, and the anticipation that everything in life is a risk, a priority in our lives. It’s been almost a month I haven’t put anything on this board and I have missed you. For my absence i apologise. Believe me when I say I feel the pinch when I'm away cut off from you lot as well. I also feel rejuvenated anytime I come back here to share with you my experiences. I will most likely be going to Calabar again for the carnival although I will not be operating in the same capacity as I did last year. That said, I am going to make sure I have a fun filled time there. I would, if it’s not too much to ask, like to know what my favourite people will be up to this Christmas and New Year season. I’m already lining up the pawpaw and watermelon I’ll be using to detoxify my system after the season’s bending binge. Have a wonderful Christmas everybody!

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Visitor

Keeping secrets is such a terrible thing, just as telling lies is; I know because I’m keeping one and I’m burning to tell you all about it. It’s a wonder I haven’t blown up yet because this infant I’m harbouring is well past its gestation period. If what they say about good things coming to those who wait is something to go by then this had better be worth it because I’m having to plug my ears so they don’t leak out of there as well. Good week everyone and a very hearty Barka de Sallah to my Muslim brothers and sisters. How’s everyone this week? Me? I’m not sure how I’m feeling. Oh darn it! I am sure how I’m feeling! I am in a very lousy mood right now. A day I should have spent hopping from one Muslim friend’s house to another filling the gaps between my teeth and sorting them out with tooth picks or floss afterwards has just been loused up by Frieda for no reason I can lay my hands on whatsoever. My crime that I can barely make out from all the gibberish she’s uttered so far? Empathy. Empathy! Just to say, “I don’t exactly know how you’re feeling but I’ll share it with you”. That’s all!

What happened? It all began yesterday, no, the day before yesterday when Frieda was in distress for the best part of two days, nay, she still is in pain now as we speak but to a much lesser degree. She was on her period during the stated time and she was in extraordinary pain, worse than any I’d ever known her to have. Matter of fact the pain was excruciating. I could tell because she couldn’t even stand up let alone walk straight. She was on her period, the, like I’d said earlier, the most painful I’d ever experienced her to be in. Frieda is the sweetest thing ever and even in that pain she was still a trooper; she still asked me how I was, trying to ignore her own discomfiture and I, on my part (bearing in mind I’d never seen her nor any other person in this kind of distress before), resolved to do all I could in my power to be as supportive as possible. That was a time I was especially glad I was created a man. Imagine being scared --itless of wearing white trousers to a party or feeling a wetness that has little to do with arousal. At the same time I remembered the wise words of an elderly friend; “When your woman is being irrationally and illogically annoying, don’t fight her, be patient and calm. When she’s going through a very rough time, stay with her. When she’s going through trials, stand by her. She’ll forgive you almost anything when you start to misbehave because she’ll never forget what you do for her.” Unfortunately for me, sleep was at its sweetest during this time.

I didn’t stand by her. I was made to wait upon her, stand by her and my circulation cut off by her claws! Even when I tottered on my feet, completely at a loss of what to do – say sorry, hold her hand, rub her back and wonder how all this was going to assuage the agony she was going through. Would it not be better if she just went to the doctor’s for some prescription? I tried urging her to go the gym to do some exercise so it’d flow better. No. It was me she wanted. I did not sleep for three days and even when I tried to harden my heart, watching her suffer was too much for me to ignore. Is this what I’d see in marriage? No way man! I’d sooner plant twins in there so the aperture (not the one that really matters of course) would open up a little bit more, let it run free and save me from the cyclic lunar madness . Periods? Damned when they come, damned when they don’t. Still, that is not what I’ve called you all here to complain about.

What I have called the community to complain about is about what happened afterwards. Would you believe that – okay what happened was this. Frieda was feeling rather low the next day and feeling a little depressed – we all get that way sometimes – and I tried encouraging her, telling her what a trooper she was, and telling the tons of things she’s accomplished in such a short space of time. We talked for over an hour and true to myself, I was as patient and supportive as ever. She calmed down, seemed to lighten up and I left it at that. She came back again, revisiting the same subject we’d just dealt with. Calmly, and still true to my nature, I considered that it might be prudent to try another approach and deftly tried to swing the mood to a more upbeat one. I talked about the funny incidents that had brightened my day, in the hope that it would cheer her up a little. Ah! Obirin! What I got for my trouble was a serious tongue lashing about how insensitive I was to her plight and that I only thought of myself! I was accused of being uncomfortable in unfamiliar territory and would use humour and jokes to get out of it. Me, Kalu, run away? I was so angry! Who was it that spent three whole sleepless nights caring for her during her time of need? Who was it that kept talking until he had nothing else to say? Who was it that… In short, I’m not going to provoke myself. I will be the bigger man. I will ignore the fact that you, Frieda, completely soured my day and made me cancel all my Sallah ram meat appointments, kept me holed up in my flat seething with anger and my lost appetite. But, I’ll be the bigger man. I will forgive. I hold no grudge against you. I only ask that you, my people judge this matter and tell me what I have done wrong. Have a great week everyone, and to you too my dearest Frieda!

PS. This post was actually written last week and the said day happened to be on her birthday which is what made the experience all the more strange. Hm, I wonder…

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

School Ghost

Good week everyone! For some reason I am on a high this morning and I don’t know what it is I am so excited about, which is nothing. Maybe the reason I have so much adrenalin pumping through me is because I am biting my nails in trepidation regarding what I have to do today. Today I go to enrol in a three day course in a field that was responsible for my chronic truancy during my secondary school days – science. Ah, those were the days, the most horrible days of my entire life, and I refused to bow to the enemy – Physics, Chemistry and boarding school! Escape route? Truancy! Man, I was such a pro I had a radar in my head that went off anytime a potential threat – any adult with a questioning look in his or her mind as to why I was not where I was supposed to be, or why I was where I was not supposed to be – lurked behind me. I was so good at truancy that I was nicknamed The School Ghost. I remember my greatest feat; circumventing classes for a full year, and paying the price – I repeated the class. The good thing about my truancy, when I wasn’t roaming the length and breath of the country armed with my school fees and that of my younger brother’s, was that most of it was spent in the library, public or school. I loved to lose myself in the literatures and histories of different countries and times and sometimes hid among the shelves when the library was being locked up for the day only to creep out, switch on a discreet light bulb and continue my devouring of the delicious volumes of fact and fantasy. I learned back then that there is always a heaven in every hell on this side of the world. Now science, my past, has come back to haunt me – and I am ready.

I think I gained my confidence in tackling this monster when I prepared and sat for my GRE exams some years ago. I bought a preparatory book on geometry and algebra, and I think trigonometry, squeezed my eyes shut, prayed and opened it. It was amazing! I was led through a step by step ‘how to do it’ on all the mathematical problems and most importantly why and where it was all going! Suddenly I could see what all this was for. I saw myself, in my mind’s eye, writing calculations that would make the internet go faster, or designing the very perfectly symmetrical cars I loved so much. In short, the reason for poring over the complex figures became increasingly realistic and not abstract like my stupid and visionless teachers in secondary school made me believe.

I think we should be very careful with the way we guide our young ones as we guide them on the arduous path to becoming adults. Education means nothing if it is not going to be applied to some aspect of life in my opinion. Anyway I have a date with science tomorrow at seven and they’d better show me a road map of where what I’ll be learning for the next few days is going or I will take someone’s head off. Early morning tomorrow so early night tonight. Have a great week everyone and do please spare a thought for me. Tara!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Prelude To Crossing Over

Good week everyone. It’s been like ages since I hooked up with you guys here at our meeting place. I’m asking myself if there’s any gossip about myself I should shed and lay bare before you all but, I fear you may not be quite able to handle the truth. Okay, so I hopped on an okada two weeks ago when my car refused to start in the morning on my way to work. I had to hop on one and I don’t know which one scared me the more, the thought of falling off the bike, being hit by a car or being seen by the public or worse still the gossip press – oh shoot, I just gave them the ammo!- on an okada. My mother who always scolded me about my slouching habit as a child would certainly have beheaded me on that day. My chin was buried somewhere in my chest and my back was so hunched that I probably looked like I was carrying a baby on my back. I squinted my eyes to protect them from the smarting wind rushing at them and at the same time surreptitiously glanced at passers by in the frantic hope that none would recognise me but, that is a story for another day; now to the present.

I am having a hard time trying to write this post because one of my very good friends, Femi, is here on a visit for a few days and that, my friends, is a few days too many because the idiot is a pest. No sooner had he entered my house (flat) than he began to demand that I go to cook up something for him to eat. I told him I had a carton of instant noodles and eggs for him to test his skills on. The bloody nerve! A well meaning considerate friend would have asked his wife to cook two huge pots of good soup since he was going to stay at his bachelor friend’s for a few days. Oh well, I guess we’ll just sit here looking at each other, go out to work, eat whatever is available on set and at the end of the day come back and go out for a drink and goat meat peppersoup. I have my multi vitamins and fruit to keep me buoyed so little worries about scurvy. We are having fun catching up with the latest gist, not gossip like girls do, but manly talk; work, business, maybe dirty jokes and what have you. His wife just called to know how her husband is doing and asked to speak with me ‘to know how I’m doing’. We both know she just wants to know he is where he says he is and I do feel sort of honoured that she trusts me to keep her husband in a good place. I think before I finally get married I’ll have my bride sign a pre-nup allowing me a weekend’s getaway once in a while to catch my breath and smell freedom for just a few days before jumping back into the swirling pool. I am not being selfish, I’m just working hard to prevent the inevitable midlife crisis that plagues many a home when the man begins to feel he has lost out on the best life has to offer. But then that’s just me and my many theories.

We just opened another bottle and we’re starting get to get philosophical on matters ranging from how best to get rid of our corrupt leaders to who benefits the most from sex; men or women, and why we have to be the ones to spend a fortune just to get some. The rest are not topics for polite conversation so I’ll spare you those and pen off here before my hand loosens like my tongue already is. I’m very possessive of my ‘squeaky clean’ image so while I’m still on this side of the divide, have a great week everyone!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Stuck in the Mud

Good week to everyone. How’s everyone been? I hope much better than I have been, and still am. I have a writer’s block. I don’t know what to write let alone how to write whatever it is should I have an inkling of what I’m writing. I don’t easily admit my lapses, failures or weaknesses. It is not that I have a problem admitting them but that I hardly recognise them. You see, we, my siblings and I, were raised to be strong and not show any weakness whatsoever. It was so bad that I didn’t even know when I was angry until I erupted and wondered a little while afterwards where that came from. I haven’t cried since my dad passed on – for this I envy my mother and my sisters, and the tail of the family, Iyke – but I almost beat someone up in a road rage incident in London after he kept taunting me. This happened two days after I learnt of his death. It was months after the incident that I realised why I had erupted in a manner quite unlike myself. I think that it is partly for this reason that I decided, on the advice of Frieda and Nkem, to start my blog. There is something about the written word that gives a name and a face and a starkness to the murky and somehow inaccessible feelings that constantly swirl around me. When I write them out I exclaim and say, “Oh, so that’s what it is?”. And it all suddenly doesn’t seem so shameful or sissyish or some insurmountable problem anymore.

I have, for the past two weeks been running away from my laptop because of the fear of not knowing what to write on my blog or if I eventually put something down, will be a load of crap – and I am a proud man. So the option? Run! That is until Frieda came in and asked what was wrong with me. She is sometimes like a needle picking a splinter out of a wound. She blows gently at it while relentlessly and deftly prising the surrounding flesh until she gets to the offending splinter. I sometimes lash at her just to ward her off so I can keep those little demons where they belong – trapped. But, when I talk about it with her, I come away with a feeling of being closer to the human race. Enough of this sentiment. So I began to talk. I wasn’t happy with my life in general. Every time I went to work, and even after rehearsing at home, I would perform at a measly forty to fifty percent of what I envisaged – I usually score myself on my work and performances. Then I watched myself on Tinsel, the drama series I do for Mnet, for the first time last week and got so depressed with my performance and now I was too miserable to write anything. She calmly said, “Then write about it!” “Write about what? Are you mad?” I retorted. “I don’t even know what’s wrong with me and you’re telling me to show people my vulnerable side!” “Yes” she said. “People want to know everything about you good or bad, plus it will help you sort out your thoughts and feelings. Just make sure I read what you’ve written before you post it because I know you. When you dive, you dive in head first; you don’t bother testing the waters.” “Well,” I replied. “Haven’t you heard that saying a boy who is sent by his father to burgle a house always kicks the front door down?”

So here I am, with nothing to write for this week and shamefacedly admitting it. Oh, did I also add that I have a dripping nose to add to my woes as well. I know it’s short notice but is there a way I can get rid of this nasal twang to my voice in two hours before I go on set this afternoon? I think I’ll post it on facebook for an even quicker solution. Have a great week everyone. Apologies for the depressing nature of my post.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Needless Needles!

I hate needles! Good week everyone. This may look like I’m stating the obvious but I know what my pain comes from. I’ve only just had the courage to admit to myself that I have a problem that I find I must deal with decisively. I seem to be having a string of epiphanies of late – oh please forgive me everyone for digressing, but I am seated in the most wonderful chair ever and typing my post out. I’m in a hotel waiting for them to come get me so we can go out and do some work. I was typing my stuff on the bed before the producers called to tell me they were coming to my room to apprise me on what is going on. So I would look like I busy myself all the time, I quickly jumped up, grabbed my laptop, plonked and plugged it at the desk in my room. They came and we talked and they left. I sat down at the desk to work, and leaned back. That was where the magic began! The chair leaned back with me – in a very weird way! The soft back and the leather bound arms (very comfy) moved back with me but the seat on which my bottom sat stayed where it was. Kind of like tilting back without tilting back, and it swivels! I’m stealing this chair! It’s a joke o! But seriously though, I now understand the phrase “That’s my daddy’s favourite chair; he’ll kill anyone who sits in it!” Frieda, better warn the kids, before I render you childless – to be! Anyway, where was I? Needles!

I had some symptoms of malaria, high fever and headache, and had gone to see a doctor for a quick solution to the irritating malady. After observing me for a little while he asked me to go to the laboratory and give them a stool, urine and blood sample. I cringed at the mention of the last sample. I asked him if it was really necessary that I give my blood since the first two should be conclusive enough. He smiled at me very understandingly and said yes. I gulped and shuffled out of the room. I went down the hall to the lab and was met by a very amiable and friendly lab technician who introduced himself to me as Kizito – I wondered if that was the name his mama gave him or a nickname he’d adopted. Anyway I gave him the sheet of paper the doctor had scribbled their usual hieroglyphics on, which he read and then asked me to sit on a nearby stool so he could take my blood sample first. At that moment two very pretty young ladies walked into the room, greeted me and sat down. I looked at them and then at him. I must have had an inquiring look about there being some Hippocratic law regarding a patient’s privacy because he immediately introduced them to me as university medical lab students on their year’s internship from school. Worse still, they recognised me and squealed with delight on doing so. They began asking a barrage of questions about some movies of mine they had watched and questions on whether I had any relationships with any of the actresses I’d kissed on screen. And then the dreaded moment came when I had to extend my arm to be stabbed.

I stared in horror as Kizito tore the syringe and the needle from their wrapping and then the latter from its sheath to attach to the former. I was already up from my seat by the time he advanced towards me with the spirit soaked cotton wool to clean the torture spot on my forearm. This time I was not going to listen to any promises of sweets or chocolates after being killed; I wasn’t that young and foolish anymore! The girls looked at me in wonder – and I didn’t care! I was trembling all over. The thought of the cold impersonal clinical disinfecting attendant smell of the hospital, any hospital, the cold feel of the menthylated spirit and the cold excruciatingly painful piercing stab of the almost blunt steel tearing into my flesh was too much for me to bear. That image defied all reason and logic. It was like an impending death coming to me in the worst possible way – and it was supposed to help me get better! The girls tittered among themselves at this funny sight but when they saw how traumatised I was, sobered up and joined their boss in trying to calm me down. Their soothing words must have had the desired effect on me because I gingerly settled back on the stool, extended my arm, looked the other way, squeezed my eyes shut, further buttressed the closure by clamping my hand over them and begged him not to let me know when the needle was coming. I began stamping my foot on the floor repeatedly to further distract me from the impending pain and when it came, I took it like a man. It was mercifully quick. I looked up from my ordeal and felt like I had just climbed, and come down the Everest. For the first time that afternoon I broke into a smile. I’m sure it must have looked relieved and embarrassed because the girls were still looking at me in amused wonder. I swore them to secrecy and left after promising to bring the other two samples the next day. I hoped I wouldn’t see the girls ever again.

It still baffles me that in the past one hundred and fifty years of modern medicine no advancement has been made towards moving away from the barbaric practice of plunging needles into living bodies. It is as if a powerful and deciding secret council in the medical world is stubbornly holding unto the adage of “no excruciating pain no gain” and making sure it remains enforced on hapless beings like us. I refuse to be ashamed of my hatred for needles. I think it remains the singular reason for my abhorrence of the hospital environment and why, as much as is possible, I try to live as healthily as possible. I mean, look at common leeches. I hear even they are not painful at all when they suck blood from their prey, which sometimes are human. Why can’t these sadists adopt the simple creatures’ method of extraction instead of subjecting us to needless needle trauma? Oti su mi o! The mad man says he has no business with the man who is persistently following him about with a sharpened machete until he begins to look for his head. I refuse to be that mad man so if no one will speak against this anomaly, I will! Have a great week everyone! Once again, away with needles!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Love for the Art

Top of the week to all and sundry. I’m on set at the moment with my mind filled with better places I would rather be than at work. I don’t know why I have a sudden urge to go on a holiday. The strange thing about it is, much of our work actually does seem to outsiders like one big holiday; we work far into the night when others are sleeping, sleep and lounge when most others are working. What most people don’t know is that for every scene that lasts for, say a minute or a minute and a half, an approximate three to five hours’ work goes into making that scene possible depending on how many people there are in the scene.

Usually, when people badger me about wanting to act I smile and ask them why they want to go into it – the fame or the love for it. I think someday, when I become a producer, if anyone accosts me and inundates me with pleas to induct him or her into the world of acting, I will make sure their first scene is a party scene where the main characters meet and have some sort of conversation or specific action to take. Those of my colleagues in the business who read this bit will probably snigger at my sadism, and with good reason too because we all know how full of drudgery “party scenes” are.

The worst part of a party scene isn’t the fact that it takes at least four hours to record a scene (I for one, have once begun one at 9pm and did not finish recording till 4am the next morning), but that one would have to nurse the very same half filled glass of wine or beer, with a strained grimace and faking a conversation with a member of the opposite sex who is supposed to be your significant other in the movie, whom you have silently vowed to never give the opportunity to take “the relationship” further than the confines of the set – you kinda get the clues regarding their intentions when they still keep leaning onto you even after the director shouts cut, and you politely have to remind them that the take is over.

Or maybe a plate of food you are supposed to be carrying but are not allowed to eat for “continuity” purposes. God help you if it’s actually a really lovely dish and the producer emphatically urges you not to waste the “props” as he is on a tight budget, or the miserly props manager – they always are – sidles up to you and begs you with a whisper in your ear to take it easy on the grub. I usually scoff the lot if I’m hungry and dare them to “disgrace” their production by not refilling my character’s plate. You watch that hot sizzling food slowly turn to a congealed mass of dulled brown slabs of meat and sodden vegetables atop icicles of yellowed rice fast stuck in a frozen lake of brown grease. Now imagine going through this routine coupled with the tedious movements, dances (again, heaven forbid that you should forget your sports deodorant at home), all the while trying to look like you’re having an absolutely fabulous time for at least fifteen to twenty times. Finish this gruelling routine, expectantly wait for the movie to come out in six to eight months ,sit down to watch and wait for that scene you laboured in for ten hours straight disappear in two minutes flat with your loved ones about you grumble about the scene dragging on for an unnecessarily long time. Yes I do believe it would make for a fitting welcome to the acting community!

Darn it! I’ve gone and got carried away with my distaste for crowd, especially party, scenes and my desire to inflict them on naïve aspirants and forgotten about the holiday I really wanted to talk about. Well let’s hope I remain focused next time and not get distracted by my innate sadistic desires. Have a great week everyone!

PS: Kudos to two of my fave people, Formerly Stealth Reader and Rosa Winkler for getting the quote on my last post correct. We shall sit at a round table with our lawyers and iron out the modalities of reward. Cheerio!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Waiting to Inhale.

Hello and a great week to everyone. Thank you. Your feedback on my impending baldness was very uplifting. I look forward to shaving my head and especially polishing the top my head to be a beacon for all the gorgeous ladies out there – in ten years time! I don’t really have much to say this week except that another feature of my anatomy has come under scrutiny; my eyes and my breath.

Nooooo! Not bad breath – every self respecting adult knows sweet smelling breath is key to being in society; one never knows when opportunity strikes. No, it has to do with my breathing control. I was called in on one of the major sets I’m working in and told I was doing well in my work but for two things. One, I had to control my breathing when I talked and I had to limit the way I opened my okpolo eyes. I understood what they meant as regards the breathing bit. The regime on this particular set is pretty rigid. When one delivers his/her lines on set, he or she is expected to say exactly what is in the script verbatim – no deviation whatsoever. This is hard for me because I never stick to what lines are written in the script. It allows me that devil-may-care irreverence that, I feel, however erroneously, brings out the creativity in me. Truth be told, being a possibly spoilt-brat, I’m used to having my way with directors by delivering my lines the way I choose as long as we both agree on its interpretation. Here, I had to not only say exactly what was in the script, but also interpret them accurately as well and all the while control my breath and stop myself from gulping buckets of air – the lines are oft times long! I have since then had a healthy respect for rappers. Maybe I should take some lessons in rapping in my spare time to cure this minor anomaly. Who knows, I might just be the next Eminem. Belief is everything!

Eyes. Well, my big eyes have been a butt of jokes from primary school where I was called everything from ‘four eyes’ to okpolo (frog) eyes, but that is beside the point. The point is I was asked to control their liberal nature of opening up at will so as not to look overly dramatic. In other words, my past has come back (or is it forward?) to haunt me. “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me right back in!” Who recognises that line, and from which movie? Winner gets a big hug from me! Lol. Don’t worry, I’ll squint my eyes so closely, talk while hardly moving my lips and set my face like a marble slab until those producers bend to my will and beg me to open up my big brownies so the world can be let into them. Nonsense!

Okay, enough jabbering, but, I will let you know how my strategy works out when I employ them next week. Why do I feel like I’m forgetting something? I know I am but I can’t put my finger on it. Well, if this post seems incomplete know that something is missing. One thing is clear though; the silver lining in this whole rant is a potentially huge rapper in the making. Just a few breathing lessons (imagine that, learning to breathe – at my age!) and the butterfly will soon squeeze out of the cocoon. Have a wonderful week everyone.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Bald Hair Day

I think I’m finally going bald – good week everyone. I know some people will be wondering why it’s just hit me like an epiphany but I usually don’t believe things people say until I see it myself. Anyway dat na anoda tory. This reality was brutally brought to the fore when I slapped at a mosquito that was just as brutally sipping at a bloody mary off of the top of my head. Off of the top of my head I repeat in emphasis, because to my rude dismay I realised that my large (hee hee!) palm covered both “land” and the “sea” with the shoreline dividing both combatants somewhere in its middle on top of my head! My forehead grows bigger by the, day?. How to combat this desertification process I don’t know. Plant trees? Reduce my aggressive testosterone levels? God forbid! I already told my God I want to keep blazing my guns till I’m past ninety. So what then does this mean?

I had my first hint of the impending – I refuse to use the word so feel free to fill the blanks – when I did a project where my character played a recording of himself that was done twenty years earlier. The make up artist, to achieve a much younger look, simply brought my hairline closer to my eyebrows by an inch and a half, I think. Then she did a most ingenious thing. Instead of my characteristic “W” shaped hairline, she made it a straight horizontal line – the adhesive being petroleum jelly to hold down the tufts of hair to my scalp. The result was astounding. I thought I was twenty one looking at myself in the mirror! Everyone exclaimed how young I looked so much it became a little uncomfortable. I took solace in the fact that I had a more mature and austere look and my encroaching ba------ was merely an intellectual high forehead.

All this aside, a much bigger challenge looms in front of me now. I have always had issues with my hair from when I was young, mostly to do with my father when he was alive. I cried and begged him to let me grow my hair long to be like the afro styles of the then Kool and the Gang or Earth Wind and Fire. I was refused. I was not allowed the Shalamar or the “BJ”, the Brothers’ Johnson hairstyles either. Matter of fact my father could not for the life of him see what the barber could do for me that he couldn’t except take his hard earned money or keep me from my books thirty full minutes longer than necessary. I was subjected to preliminarily having my hair combed, accompanied by my howls of pain – I hated to comb my hair; it was always getting matted especially the one at the nape of my neck. Oh God it hurt! Then he would begin shearing – the best word I can use for it; he preferred scissors, holding my little head in the vice like grip of his strong hands, tears welling up in my eyes as I thought of my brothers enjoying the Muppet show that I couldn’t even crane my neck to watch. You can imagine my surprise when in the nineties, when it was the ‘skin’ cut that was in vogue, a concerned father called me to his study to ask me why I felt the need to cut off all my wonderful hair I was blessed with and go about looking like a convict headed for the gallows. I should grow some hair so I wouldn’t be mistaken for a thief when I went to the market was my admonition.

Facing me now as I sit here typing are all the things I have longed to do but haven’t been able to till date. I haven’t grown dreadlocks yet. I wonder what I would look like when I do. I would probably grow a full beard as well and wear long white flowing robes and dark glasses. To complete that revered philosophical look I’d carry some rosary beads on one hand and a hibiscus flower on the other, sniffing and murmuring intermittently as I bob my head to the elementals in the universe. Alas, I have been prevented from this luxury because of the nature of my work where growing dreadlocks with limit my range as an actor. Tattoos I’m still thinking about. Hm, I think I’ll add these two to my hair bucket list before its demise.

Well that’s my missive on my bad hair day. Can’t believe I’m actually whingeing about my hair. Kalu, you have sunk to the lowest depths! Are there toupees for black men I wonder? At least I’ll take comfort in the scientific hypothesis that bald men are typically more virile than their full haired competitors. I’ll take comfort in my intellectual high foreheadedness while it lasts before I proceed to being baldilocks; I know I have a good shape of head. Plus, I get to have it caressed. Those of us fortunate enough to have experienced the loving hands of a good woman caress our bald heads during love making know what I mean. My resolve? To baldly go where others have gone before me. Have a great week everyone!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Berries of the Dark Kind

Guten week to everyone in the house. How is everyone? First, I want to wish my very dear friend Sara a very happy birthday today, and a belated birthday to my troublesome friend Nse whose birthday it was two days ago. I’m down with a cold – the hazards of walking about on cold floors with bare feet. I thought about (and did) complaining about it on facebook and then I remembered worse things people suffer from all over the world and I held my piece. On second thoughts though, I think I am allowed to whinge about it a little. After all, my people say that a little snake one sees alone in the bush becomes a python when he recounts his encounter with it to his neighbours when he sees them. So yes, I have a cold and it’s killed my appetite, one of the few places in my life I do not tolerate interference. It prevented me from going for the bush meat pepper soup I craved for last night as I am wont to every time I finish a project, especially the gruelling one I finished last week. No worries, the tick will fall off soon as it has drunk its fill.

The project, quite an interesting one; I played a character that spoke with a very heavy Igbo accent. The Igbos, of whom I am one, are an interesting people. We believe in getting our point across even if it means not giving much consideration to how we put it. That is not to say we are not poetic, quite the contrary if I may say. We like to pepper our words with proverbs to make our audience think, anticipate what we want to say, hide what we want to say or break terrible news gently. You may refer to my earlier proverb as an example. Anyway, enough talk. Now to more talk!
There is quite a lot to talk about but, being the blabber mouth that I am, I have been prevented from saying ninety percent of what is in my head to say by the mighty Nkem so I’ll just go with the ten percent. I feel like I’m the last to catch up with any kind of new technology – the latest to confront me being the ubiquitous blackberry which I am soon in the danger of acquiring. My friends, Yolanda and Uche Jombo, had already begun educating me on the virtues of this “wonderful” contraption – its phenomenal networking abilities, updates on twitter and facebook and its dexterity in gossip related matters – a fundamental asset to have in our “show” business. Like I said in previous posts, I’m still trying to get my head round this modern technology. One thing is for certain though; the world seems to have moved on from the traditional physical structures and property to the virtual kind – one that is based on perception, publicity and transient popularity. Pretty much like gold and money that was at the turn of the Victorian period, gold being the actual value and paper money, a ‘mere’ promissory note that has come to dominate the world economy for the past near two hundred years.

My worry now, apart from worrying about the mastery of those complex social networks, is how I’ll manage to type on those tiny buttons with my huge thumbs. Then again, every journey begins with a step. I’ll embark on this one today and wait for another accursed technology to raise its head from around the corner. I did not get to have my beloved pepper soup today but, as I’ve begun to hawk and spit, from the thickening of my phlegm, it shouldn’t be too far away. A few more lemon teas should speed up the progress. Awaiting your tips on what hidden treasures lie hidden in my new toy. Have a great week everyone.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Dem don gba me!

A gooooood week to everyone and may all our troubles be put behind us or flushed down the toilet! It is so good to be jaunty again. I have my cousin visiting me for the week and he is eating the house down. He just graduated from university and is serving out his paramilitary cum volunteering service to the nation also known as youth corps in Yobe state, and arid semi desert area in the northern part of the country. He came in gaunt and went straight to bed – for two days! Now he’s eating like a caterpillar, except he is not getting any fatter! God I miss those days you eat, eat and eat and it just doesn’t show on your body. Anyway I’ll just let him run riot and then sadistically release him to sandstorm city! Heh, heh, heh!

Seriously, thanks everyone for your support in the past few weeks; it meant a lot to me. I observed some interesting comments on my posts though, especially the last one. May I reiterate that this was a singular experience with a particular production company so let’s please not paint other production outfits or any country with the same brush. It is easy for this to degenerate to a level we have no business going so let’s put things in perspective. Thanks! Now for this week: I’ve been stung by a bee. That was last week on my way to work when I was taken (gba) by a fuel pump attendant.

I had stopped at a busy petrol station on busy highway quite close to the domestic airport in Lagos and decided to top up my fuel tank so I’d have enough fuel for a few days, actually two; Betty’s so thirsty. One of the attendants, a lady, beckoned me over and so I parked at her pump. She was filling someone else’s car on the other side of the pump so I waited patiently. When she finished, she brought that pump on the other side, they usually have long hoses, over to my side and inserted the nozzle in my tank and asked how fuel I wanted. I told her to put two thousand Naira’s worth. Obviously I couldn’t see the metre from where I was being on the other side. I think she saw the questioning look in my eyes because she asked if I’d like to come round and check that the correct amount of fuel I requested for was being pumped. She looked at me coolly, a small smile playing on her lips as she waited. I looked at her, studying her. She was plump, not particularly groomed and so apparently not too bothered about her looks. I surmised that she probably had kids and so was a responsible person. Plus, it was drizzling and I didn’t want to get wet. I took a chance and asked her to go right on and looked hard at her while she pumped away. There was an intermittent gasp, or so I thought.

She finished pumping, closed the tank and I paid her and went on my merry way. As I was driving I kept my eye on the fuel needle to watch it climb like I always do. It kept climbing until it stopped – well short of the place it should have rested! Oh! I smiled. Lagos don gba me! And worse still I was already joined another highway and couldn’t turn back. Not that I could if I wanted to anyway because I was going to work; I had little time to waste. I’m going back there again. I don’t know what I’ll do, but I’m going back there again. Well at least it’s given me something for us all to laugh about.

Got to go guys; my producer’s on my neck to come on set so please do have a great week everyone and, please get out of your cars to check your metres! Ciao!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Production pt. 2

.......The new hotel we moved into was large and spacious and I was checked into it at about eleven pm by the production manager and the producer who did not speak to me throughout the journey and remained in the vehicle while I was being checked in. I supposed she was busied by her thoughts. I was to find out later that she had had a disagreement with the director’s wife over his wife’s rejection of some dingy rooms she tried to lodge us in.

A good week to everyone and many many thanks for the wonderful support you’ve shown me in my good, bad and funny times. You are truly a remarkable bunch! I liked the room; it was spacious and had enough room to practice my new found love; martial taekwondo kicks. I had a good night’s rest and the next morning after my stretches, I sauntered outside to see what the neighbourhood was like and to my pleasant surprise I met one of my colleagues I’d worked with before in Nigeria and another man I did not know on their way back to the hotel I was lodged. After exchanging pleasantries I asked them what they were doing in Ghana and they told me they were in the middle of a movie production (the other man was the producer of the project) and were just coming back form the police station. Curious, I asked them what had happened and Victor, the producer said, they had gone to report an armed robbery incident in his hotel room the night before – the very hotel I was checked into the night before! Shocked, I asked him what had happened. He narrated the story of how the night before at about 2am, he woke suddenly to see two armed men in his room bending over him. They were armed with a machete and an axe and in hushed tones ordered him to bring his suitcase which he did. They rifled through it and took all the tapes he had with him, his passport and little else, then ordered him to get into the bathroom, locked him in and made off into the darkness. Fortunately for him, he said, he had kept the tapes of the scenes he had shot on the production in a different place and only had the master tapes of old projects on him at the time of the robbery. I didn’t know what to think. What I did know was that I did not feel safe in that hotel and I told my producer as such. We, the director and I, were soon moved to another hotel in the Dzorwulu district of Accra which was much nearer the locations that had been earmarked for shooting in.

We still did not start production until Sunday the 10th of July and when we did, the pace was slow. We did not begin recording until about 11am daily even though some of us were ready for work by 8am. Most of the challenges were due to poor logistics and costuming problems. The director was very particular about his shots – he was very meticulous about his work - and went to great lengths to rehearse and put the actors through their blockings. We managed a range of two to seven scenes a day. I had told the director I would be starting another job on Monday the 19th of July and would be leaving for Nigeria on Friday the 16th. If I couldn’t finish my scenes before I left, I could still come back to finish them when I was done with Nigeria. He said no problem and we worked on. On Monday I called the
producer and told her I would be leaving on Friday and would appreciate it if the scenes I had to do were given priority so I’d have less time to spend on set were I to have to come back to complete and she told me she’d see to it.

Wednesday came and at the end of production for the day I was called to a meeting with the producer, the production manager and my friend the director. They told me that after checking the schedule and the amount of work I had left, it was clear that my leaving on Friday would be detrimental to their production. You know that agape feeling you get when you are being blamed for your mother’s (don’t mean to be crude but I’m trying to look for the most monstrous illogic) loss of her virginity? They honestly had to be absolutely mad to brazenly make that request! After two weeks of indolence, and giving them an additional three days? Abeg abeg! Make I no jus vex for here as I just de think am! I politely told them where to jump into; my set date was fixed and there was no turning back. My friend the director told me he would see to it that I did not leave till I finished his shoot and that I would do well to comply because I would have my good image tarnished in Ghana and he would bring in the bigwigs from either of the two countries to compel me to do my duty. I told him his threats would fall flat in his face and left before I said or did anything I would regret. The producer and the production ran to my room begging me to give them a few more days and I told them I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to give them an answer but that we could talk at the end of production the next day.

The next day being Thursday, at the end of production at about 1am, the producer came to my room again with her production manager to implore me to give them an extra four days on set. She asked me to think of her situation and think of my own mother and take pity on her. I told her I had obligations as well and would have to pay the other production I was scheduled to work with their money if I didn’t turn up for theirs. She said she didn’t have any money left and it was back to square one. After prevailing on me for quite a while I agreed to give them three extra days from Friday where I would return Monday’s first flight to Nigeria on the condition that they would buy me a ticket for the first flight to Nigeria on Monday the 19th of July, and that I would have the ticket in my possession by 10am that Friday. They readily agreed thanked me and we called it a night.

In the morning on Friday I went on set with the director and other members of the crew and waited for the other actors to turn up. We waited till about 11am and still they hadn’t showed up – and neither had my ticket. I called the producer and asked her what was going on. She told me she had purchased the ticket and invited the lady at the travel agency she had booked to confirm it to me. She did and I relaxed. 2pm came and still none of the other actors I was to work with had turned up. With quite some irritation and some unease, I called the airline my flight was supposed to be on and asked to confirm my flight. I was told that my flight had indeed been booked but had not been paid for. I saw red. Here I was on set with a view to finish as many scenes as I could as agreed and the production manager had not even ensured his production was running smoothly by getting all his actors to work on time and worse still, the production did not seem interested in fulfilling its own end of the bargain. I picked my bag and headed for the road and hailed a passing taxi. I got in, told the driver to take me to my hotel but before he could move the production manager and some of the crew members prevented the driver from moving off. Not many pretty words escaped my mouth that afternoon and I did utter some expletives my mother would be shocked at hearing from me. It seemed someone had alerted the producer on what was going on because a short while later someone came to me and told me the ticket had been paid for. I called the airline again and this they did confirm that the ticket for the flight had been paid. I went back to work but it was not until 5.30pm that the other actors showed up. We could only do two scenes that day.

I got back to the hotel at 12.30am and immediately went to bed, only to be woken up from my sleep a while later by a knock on my door. I checked the time on my watch; it was 1.30am. I went to the door and asked who it was and heard the voice of the producer saying it was she. I opened the door to see the producer and three fierce looking men I had not seen before. I asked her what she wanted and she told me she wanted to give me my ticket. When I asked her who the men with her where and why they were with her, she told me they were her brothers and they were there to have a talk with me. I was compelled to go downstairs with them to the poolside.

As soon as we got there they brandished a document they called a contract and told me I was going to sign the contract and state that I was going to stay on the producer’s set until I finished the job. I told them I would not sign the contract at that time of the night with people I did not know. They told me if I did not sign it, they (two of them were soldiers) would drag me to their barracks and deal with me mercilessly there. I explained to them that it would be foolish of me to sign something I didn’t know about without any witness on my side. The younger of the two soldiers( they were in plain clothes) lost his patience. He pushed his chair back, stood up and barked out to his colleagues to allow him bundle me into a waiting SUV that was parked nearby. I kept my cool, appearing unruffled but inside I was quaking in my sweaty boots. Here I was in the middle of the night, no one to see what was going on, nobody to call, in a country I knew nobody. I could be taken to anywhere and anything could be done to me. My family didn’t even know where I was! I remembered I had God who was everywhere with me and the fear melted away. I sat resolute. Exasperated they called my director friend to come downstairs and talk some sense into his stupid Nigerian brother.

When he came down, they told me I now had a friend I could rely on my side and so I had just found a reliable witness; I should sign. I refused and my friend the director asked for their permission to speak with me in private. We went to a corner and he told me I could be taken anywhere and whatever happened to me, it would be their word against mine – and I would lose because I wasn’t an indigene. Furthermore, they could tarnish my hard earned name I had worked so hard for in a beat. I was to reconsider my position, sign the contract and let everyone go in peace. It kind of smacked of a ‘good cop’, ‘bad cop’ game to me – my very own director friend who was purported to be on the lookout for me selling me down the river to my face! I chose not to do so and was forced to get into the backseat of the waiting car, a man seated on either side of me. I asked them where they were taking me but they refused to answer me, telling me I would find out soon enough. We drove for what seemed like ten minutes before we parked in front of a police station. We went in and the producer began to narrate her version of the story to two desk officers in charge. She told them of how I was trying to abandon her job after only six days of work when I was contracted to stay on for sixteen days. My friend the director came to the same station moments later and corroborated her story. I told the police it was not true, that I had given twenty one days of my time, and was still in the middle of production when I was abducted from my hotel in the middle of the night and forced to sign a document I did not know about.

The police told them that according to the Ghanaian law, I could not be compelled to sign a document against my will and the fact that I had begun working with them and had not refused to work with them, I could not be held. They did insist though, that the time I had spent prior to the commencement of shoot was of no significance and I was to complete the ten remaining days. I objected to this and we were told we’d have to wait at the station until the senior officer in charge of the station arrived at 9am. We waited. As we waited I noticed the producer having some surreptitious conversation in the darkness behind some trees with a uniformed man whose rank I would later recognise to be that of an inspector. In self preservation I called the director and told him I was willing to sign the documents on the condition that the producer would let me board my flight for Monday to do my one shoot with Tinsel after which I would come back on Thursday for a four day shoot with them. He told them and they readily agreed. We sat down and I signed the papers; it was 6am. I went to bed at 7am and got up at 11am and went to work. We did quite some work that Saturday but had to strike set early on Sunday – 6pm- because some locations had not been confirmed.

Monday morning came without a hitch. I got to the airport, boarded my plane and got home without any ado. This post wasn’t created to exacerbate the silly (as far as I'm concerned) feud between Nollywood vs Gollywood, Most of my therapy has come from writing about my experience. There’s something very exorcising about writing about trauma. Everything good or bad is forced to be put in perspective. My relationship with Frieda was sorely tested through this incident, and I have resolved to review the way I do business in future, to be watchful in my dealings with people to weigh their words with their actions. I must at this point iterate that this was a unique incident borne out of lack of communication, lack of planning and rash decision making on the part of the producer instigated by my friend, the director (who happens to be Nigerian). I say unique because this in no way affects the goodwill I bear towards my beloved Ghanaians with whom I have had benevolent dealings for the past fifteen years and have proved to be exceptional hosts to me in my time in Ghana. I still haven’t abandoned the project but have prudently stayed my hand until we (the production company and my management team) both conclude on the legal matters that will ensure we both work in harmony. I want to especially thank those of you who have made it this far. I promise you that missives like this will not come often. Let’s pray my next post will be on a much lighter note than this hairy, dreary drudgery. Have a great week everyone!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Production

A good week to everyone out there. Not so good week or should I say it has not been a very good month for me. It has in fact been a very harrowing experience to be honest; one I would do well to learn from.

It all began when I was called by a producer through a director friend of mine to do a sixteen day movie production in Ghana. The production was slated to begin on the 28th of June and end on or before the 13th of July. I spoke with the producer, a lady, and on the strength of my relationship with my director friend, agreed to collect my fee when I got to the set. I didn’t think much of this, being excited at the prospect of working with him again and also the thought of working in Ghana again with its friendly people. I told them I had to come in the following day, Tuesday, as I had some work to complete and they agreed. On the Tuesday, I boarded the plane and called the director to let him know I was on my way only for him to tell me he had been trying to reach me the day before to postpone my flight till Friday as they still had some location problems. I was numb. I felt like my stomach had dropped from beneath me. I hadn’t even taken off and now this?! I told him I’d already boarded the plane and couldn’t turn back. And he said to come anyway as there was still choreography rehearsals to do.

I got to the hotel at about eight thirty and was met by the director, my friend, who told me there was no problem since I still had four days to choreograph my movement and learn some basic martial arts moves – it was a martial arts movie – before shoot began on Saturday. The producer came later on that morning and we were introduced to one another and she told me she would come to see me in my room later when she finished talking with the director. I did not see her again that day or the next. I had fun rehearsing though, learning moves that seemed so magical to me before and they were exhilaratingly exhausting. Days passed on to the sixth and then seventh day and still no shoot and were peppered with all sorts of reasons why we hadn’t commenced shoot. With some trouble I managed to get my money and began to wonder why the producer seemed to have no problem burning money on hotel bills and keeping us there doing nothing even after I had told her my days were going by. I had scheduled my projects with other producers for later in the month and the next so I wasn’t particularly bothered. I just knew when my time was up I would have to leave. The hotel where we were was on the outskirts of the city of Accra and to get into town was to grapple with horrendous traffic lasting up to five hours so I busied myself with rehearsing to perfect my character’s moves, studying my scripts for the next projects and browsing at the local internet cafes.

On Wednesday the 7th of July the director and I were moved to another hotel to gain better accessibility to town. We still hadn’t begun shoot. This was a first for me. I had never seen anything like it. The producer never came around and still did not communicate with me. I had asked her once before whether she was comfortable burning her money like that and she said she had everything under control. I thought then afterwards to keep my thoughts to myself. Oh I forgot another kicker! I was told that the Ghanaian minister for arts and culture had announced that every Nigerian artist or crew member would be charged three hundred US dollars for every project he or she worked on in Ghana and so the said amount would be deducted from my fees. I was astonished that such an edict would take effect immediately without me being forewarned about this. In the spirit of goodwill, bemused as I was, I acquiesced. Little was I to know that this was just the tip of the iceberg of things to come in the following days I was to spend there. There were many; armed robbery in my hotel, non payment of hotel bills, my abduction from my hotel in the middle of the night by soldiers among others.

I laugh mirthlessly as I write this because I am still traumatized over my experience in that production in that wonderful country called Ghana. I beg to be let off for now to continue the rest of the story in another post which will be coming up very soon. Have a great week everyone and God bless.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Breaking Rocks In a Hard Place.

A good week to all and sundry. I am still the good old country called Ghana. I get to sleep with the beautiful roar of the sea by night and bask in the peaceful calmness of Accra by day even while I’m hard at work. I can finally touch my toes without bending my knees after a week of rigorous martial arts training. I get delirious when I raise my arms and feel that searing pain shooting through my muscles and tendons mostly because pain equals result. In no time soon I’ll be ready for those area boys when they crawl out of their holes to accost me when I’m stuck on the third mainland bridge or those rogue LASTMA traffic officials who always lie in wait for any erring road user. Yeah, I know, new found power always has a way of getting into its owner’s head but that’s the adage’s business; it’s my prerogative; I can what I wanna do – thanks Bobby!

On a more serious note, I am on a strong learning curve here. I am learning a lot about patience and endurance which are largely fueled by focus and drive towards where I want to be in this volatile entertainment industry. It is especially hard to humble myself to learn the vital instruments I need to take me the level I want to get to – to still be relevant as a versatile actor for the next forty years. It’s so easy to let the adulation and accolades one gets from the general public, the media and professional bodies get to ones head – and they do seep in no matter how hard you try to keep them out I find that they leave one in a false world where one sees little need to improve on ones self especially when it requires that one to lower himself or herself to the ‘lower’ status he or she just struggled to rise from - a place he or she would rather go to considerable lengths to forget; make everyone else forget. What makes it swallowable is focusing on the goal (hopefully worthwhile) one wants to achieve. The biblical adage; in order to live, one must first die, comes true here. It has been even harder to find people with whom to share the same vision – not those who just talk (and they are cheaply available) but those who actually work towards perfection. So far I have managed to find just two diamonds in the deep recesses of the quality mine. I apologise for not elaborating more on this but you will understand that there is a time for everything and at the right time, my basket mouth – as you my dear readers can attest to – will surely leak. I am not in a pretty place right now but I am convinced that the culmination of all these travails will bring a lasting smile in my body, soul and spirit.

Today is my off day – thank God – I’m going to take my aching limbs to the bed, snooze for about twenty minutes and amble off to the cyber café and deliver your goods. So I’ll see you guys next week yes? Have a great week everybody! Groan...

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Beach

Hello and a very very good week to everyone out there! Anyone feeling as good as I feel today? Why am I sounding so upbeat? Well maybe because I just got back from a very hearty walk along the Koko beach in Accra, Ghana. Even more interestingly, I walked up to the end of the beach where lots of fishermen and their boats were berthed. It wasn’t that it was the end of the beach but that there was a pool separating a part of the beach from the other. Within that cove was a mass of very colourful boats bearing an array of insignia extolling God’s or Allah’s merciful ways, probably in supplication to avert any impending disaster while fishing out there in the sea. The other side of the cove was bustling with a mob of excited women haggling over the prices and perhaps the availability of fish. The fishermen poured out the slippery silvery fish from baskets into the waiting basins and buckets the eager women were carrying. It’s hard to imagine that I actually came here to work. The part I am not exactly looking forward to is the part where I have to go for training to be a martial arts expert. I’m supposed to be a round house kicking villain who is almost psychopathic in his mercilessness.

It is half past two in the afternoon, about three hours since I began this piece; quite a lot of things have happened. Almost lost my temper with someone on set but I managed to calm myself down and talk civilly to her; just like I promised Frieda I would. When the director called me a few minutes afterwards, saying the lady in question had called him in tears, I told him I felt no remorse for what I said. I have little patience with people who like to take others for fools just because they are pleasant and accommodating. Now it’s afternoon and I’m getting drowsy and lethargic. My problem right now is how I am going to send this post out as there is no internet in the hotel. I did hear there’s a café up the road so I’m going to trudge there along the beach hoping to pass by bikini clad ladies in the scorching sun, ask them for directions, fall into chat mode with them, ask them if they know any hot local night spots and if they’ll graciously guide a helpless stranger so he doesn’t get lost and then forget to send this post. The point I’m trying to make is for you guys to pray I don’t meet anyone at all. Have a great week everyone!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Smuggler's Route

Hello and a good week to everybody. I have just begun to conquer another technological milestone – twitter! Yes my friends, for so long I have wondered what all the fuss was about twitting all over the place with almost ‘nonsensical’ tweets about favourite pets and, just nonsense! Far as I was concerned it was all just a massive gathering of twits until Frieda explained it all to me. I still haven’t comprehended it fully but I have begun to sound like I know what I’m talking about when I tweet. Point is, I can see what a dinosaur I will be when I become a father. Matter of fact I almost weep for myself because of the way those little mites are going to abuse my ignorance of modern technology. My resolve therefore is this. I must marry someone who’s a gadget freak and is up to date with every conceivable contraption that is invented. She will also be a very bad cook on account of my love for good food. Please don’t think I am mad. I have always loved good food, according to my mum, and the way my metabolism has dropped in the past few years has given me serious cause for concern. If I dare eat even half of what I used to eat three years ago, I could almost watch my girth increase, my cheeks billow and my feet much more leaden. Kilo nonsense en? One of my favourite meals, pounded yam and Afang, I can no longer indulge myself in. hence my solution to my problem; marry a terrible cook so I learn to hate to eat and then I stay slim – ish. How’s that for a solution? By the time my daughter gets married they’ll probably have invented some gadget with to cook any meal her hubby desires. I feel much better now after airing my thoughts in this rather long paragraph. I hope they don’t smell too badly. Now to what I really want to talk about; my smuggling trip.

I had been shooting some scenes of a movie project in Ogun state and we were determined to finish it that day which took us into the wee hours of the next day – 2am to be precise. Some of us decided against putting up in a hotel and opted to drive back in a convoy to Lagos. The road however was a route smugglers typically used to smuggle goods to and from the neighbouring Benin Republic country with fierce customs officers lay in wait and desperate smugglers strived to get their commissions through at all costs. I for one was ready to risk driving along that smuggling route at that hour than face the horrendous traffic gridlock that characterized the morning rush hour traffic. ‘Sides my car had been making some funny noises after I’d waded in a mini lake in a crater in the road on one of our trips to location. There was no way I would risk taking Betty though a four hour traffic jam without seeing her doctor.

Our three cars set off into the night. The moon was full and the ghostly shapes of the tall grass swayed to our rushing headlights. The red eyes ahead of me flashed an even brighter red intermittently as they dodged ubiquitous potholes. Okay Kalu, stop it! We drove fast weaving this way and that as we dodged the numerous potholes that were dotted all over the road. Occasionally we would hear and wince at the jarring crash of the shock absorber of the lead vehicle as he went into a hidden pothole and quickly learn from his mistake. I had no mirror to look into but I knew my eyes were bulging from concentrating on the road and its environs. I wondered what we would do if armed robbers waylaid us at some deep gorge we were negotiating. Would I flee into the bush and leave the women among us to fend for themselves? One never knows what one is capable of until the one faces adversity. This adversity was not one I was willing to accommodate, rather I saw it as an adventure and sped on. Surprisingly, the few customs checkpoints we went by didn’t even bother with us. It was as if they knew what they were looking for and didn’t even glance at us as we sped past.

We got to our homes safely, stopping at the married colleague’s first. After honking our horns at her gate incessantly, the gate man opened them to a relieved but very silently furious husband. I watched as she slunk sideways through their front door like a crab as I left for my own home with trepidation in my heart. I’ll explain. My street has about two or three street gates leading to it from all sides. They all shut at the stroke of twelve midnight and once they do, hardly anyone or thing can compel them to be opened before 5am. Getting there at 3am, I began to bang at the street gate before my gate but no one answered. Peeping through the slits I could see three security guards warming themselves round a fire and smoking what wafted to me as weed. I called out loud to them telling them I was a resident in the adjoining street. They stopped, looked in my direction and calmly turned around and began to walk further away leaving me with no choice than to curl into Betty’s back seat. The windows misted over within minutes of shutting the door and made me wonder how much they’d mist if I were to shag in it – kinda like the Titanic love scene. My rucksack served as my pillow and I slept soundly till 4.50am when my alarm clock woke me.

Well folks, that was my experience plying a smuggler’s route at a smuggler’s time. Who knows? Someday when there’s no more work in my profession… Have a great week everyone!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Rare Touch of Nature Pt. 2

Good week everybody. And so we walked or should I say crept into the grove and took in the dense foliage that surrounded us. It kind of reminded me of the road to my late grandmother’s farm in the village with its sound of dripping leaves, chirping crickets and muddy floors in its dark enclave. We walked round the corner and suddenly came face to face with our prime location, the house.

It far exceeded what we envisioned. It was a lonely, ramshackle, and almost lopsided cemented hut that was truly in the middle of nowhere even though it was still close to the rest of the village. It had two windows and two doors that all hung open giving it a free rather than welcoming look. The tin roof had almost rusted through and scratches from small animals could be heard scurrying across it from where we stood. The hollowness of the sounds they made gave the indication of the absence of any insulating ceiling. It didn’t seem to matter though as the surrounding shrubs and trees ensured a permanent coolness in the area. Its isolation was almost as though its occupiers had been ostracised for some heinous crime they’d committed against their society. Two dwarf cows were tethered to a nearby tree in the bush and were surprisingly lovingly tended to by two veterinary doctors who gave one and then the other injections. A half naked woman stood behind them caressing the bigger cow’s hind quarters concernedly. It was my guess that the cow was female because the woman seemed to stroke it with an empathy only a female can bond with another.

She turned out to be the matron as she welcomed us to her home, asking us what we needed and when she could come back and have her home to herself. Her age was indeterminable because she looked wizened and her face bore the ravages of life’s hard toil. Her ribs showed through her stretched skin and her shrunken breasts showed that she had suckled many - I wondered how many. My mind went to my mum’s seven children feat and whose boobs still looked good even after we, especially the boys, had drunk our fill. Perhaps she’d lost many in infancy. A sixish year old child squatted on a stool on the raised veranda staring at us and I wasn’t sure if it was her son or grandson. I was brought back from my reverie by the costumier who brought my costume – a ‘filthy’ white t-shirt(which effect was achieved with mascara and women’s foundation make up), blue trousers and rubber bathroom slippers. Then the props man handed me the shovels and Sneeze asked me to go and dig my grave.

It had just begun raining and my character was supposed to be in a trance while being compelled to dig a grave in which he’d bury his wife(Chioma) and child by an evil sorceress (Uche). The grave had already been dug halfway leaving me to do the rest so I jumped in, confident the softening rain would make my work much easier – I was much mistaken. My tooth fillings were almost jarred loose from the shock that reverberated through my body. I looked at the spot the shovel struck, uncomfortably near my exposed toes – I shifted them back – hoping to see an exposed root the real diggers had omitted to remove, and saw only red earth. Squinting my eyes, I sneaked a look at the camera hoping it wouldn’t sense my discomfiture and proceeded to cheat by hacking at the much softer sides of the grave. All that mattered, as far as I was concerned, was to seen shovelling red earth from the hole and look authentic on camera. I had to shovel for another ten minutes, carry the corpse of my character’s son lay him in the grave, cut, wait till he climbed out again and, on the roll of the cameras begin shovelling the soil back into the grave to cover it. In revenge, when the director finally shouted “Cut”, I ran over to Sneeze to give him a big hug and it was fun watching him flee for his dear crisp clean clothes!

I still wince with a little when I raise my arms to do little chores but I still smile at the memory of being in that quaint rural village with its simple happy folks, leisurely goats, friendly cast and crew and physical hard work. Till next week then. Have a great week everybody

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Rare Touch of Nature

A very hearty good week to everybody. I don’t know how many times you have to hear my excuses for not putting up posts when I should but things just happen sometimes to upset the cart. Don’t worry, it’s not just you; Nkem’s been on my neck about my posts as well and I say I can’t get a good story sitting in my couch; I have to go out and get it. She’s so anal about me getting things done on time. She should give me some peace! Yeah right. Darn it! This means I have to tell a good enough story if I don’t want you guys eating me raw. Hm, let me see… Okay, here goes… Once upon a time two weeks past, when lizards had multiplied from ones and twos to hordes scurrying about scratching all over tin roofs and bobbying their heads over termite infested faggots for fuel, there was a young(ish) man who dared venture from his concrete hut in his concrete village screaming with mechanised wagons and bicycles to the much more serene and chirpy villages in the very borders of his living memory.

A tad melodramatic I know, so I’ll come down to earth in plain English. We went to shoot the bulk of a movie in the rural parts of Ogun state. It was supposed to be a sort of fantasy horror movie and we were looking for a very lonely derelict hut in the middle of nowhere. The director, Moses Iwang, whom we fondly call Sneeze – don’t ask me why – who, gladly, takes his work seriously, had insisted on a really spooky location to generate the eerie feel and to make the ‘crappy’ actors’ (us) work easier. The bloody nerve of him! This ‘aesthetic’ feel drove us from the comfort of our homes in Lagos to this remote village four hours away in our own cars! The upstart even had the nerve to leave his own car behind – it was too posh to go – and ride in Uche Jombo’s. The good thing is she made him drive for the entire duration of the shoot. Funny how much liberties people take when they know they are loved – and it does irk me to admit that he is good people.

We got there at about four in the evening, disembarked and looked around us. It was a peaceful village. There were no electric poles in sight and it was refreshing to see chickens pecking for food all over the place. I watched in amusement as a hen with her brood of chicks ‘snarled’ at one of the local dogs that ventured too near one of her errant children. It tucked its tail and slunk away and I couldn’t help wondering what the dog was thinking at the time. “Time was when you wouldn’t dare try that with me if not for these meddlesome humans who force this anomaly upon us.” Not too far away a large she-goat butted a much younger he-goat (probably her grandson) that had been amorously sniffing at her rear end. Half naked children played with wild abandon with one another while some older ones of ages nine to twelve herded docile looking cows to juicier pastures on the outskirts of the village. There weren’t many adults to be seen except for the nursing mothers and the aged men and women. It was quite easy to spot the aged women on account of the fact that they walked about topless, stretched triangular folds of skin flapping over their ribcages as they walked with still very sturdy legs. We stared bemused at them wondering why it took them so long to get their kits off. I guess they followed the maxim of exclusivity being the key to increasing demand. Perhaps they chose to bare their spent reserves as a reminder to the much younger ones of what fate had in store for them and for the discerning ones among them to make hay while the sun still shone.

After taking in our fill of the environment and making jokes (the silly Sneeze asked me to take a chance with one of the rare topless beauties and maybe I’d get lucky – idiot!), Chioma Akpotha even twitted about us time travelling back to 1935, we went off into the spooky grove to commence work. Sadly I have run out of the space allotted to me in this post so maybe I’ll talk about the rest next week so until then, do have a great week ahead guys! A bientot!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

I am so sorry!

Good week everyone!
I really haven't been keeping to my blog post deadlines and I am so sorry. For the past few weeks things have been crazy but I'll be back.
Hmmm, I guess its time for me to run through the woods... topless (I really need to step up my workout plan) - Pray for me!

Have a wonderful week everybody and stay safe!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Make Believe

“…That planet earth turns slowly…I’d rather stay awake when I’m asleep... ‘cause everything is never as it seems.” “Fireflies” by Owl City’s been playing in my mind for days now and I only just knew why. The thoughts of the make believe world is sometimes what keeps us sane in this rough world. Who says we don’t need a break once in a while. Good week everybody and welcome to a new week.

My next two weeks are going to very hectic, started on Monday, with the very schedule I hate the most; hopping from one set to the other and then back again. Yes my friends, some unfinished business from a previous project has come back to haunt me so I have to make time to, in the middle of this one, finish the former and then come back to wrap this one up. I think this is the type that gives me the most stress and may be steeped in for the few months to come. In situations like these I try to see the things I like and look forward to in the projects that I commit myself to.

In the first project, Tinsel, I play an evil don, Masters, who runs a smuggling and drug ring and id currently looking for legitimate businesses to acquire and sink his claws into. I love bad guy roles because they give you the chance to let out that inherent evil in you and make you have a feel of what you would have been like had one been on the dark side. The catch is, especially in this one where the evil is from within; I don’t have the luxury of smashing people’s heads open or wrenching screaming babies from their wailing mothers to collect debts owed me, I actually have to think I’m evil to be evil. It’s a delicious far cry from the goody-two-shoes roles I usually play.

The other project is just as wonderful in its weirdness. I play a man in a book that comes alive whenever anyone opens the book to read. He goes through a harrowing journey with his family and the story changes whenever a different person reads the book. I’d love to say more but as you well know, I’m bound to protect the story from ‘industrial’ spies so let’s just say it’s wonderfully weird and the director, Sneeze, is just as weird – just how I like my directors; they bring out the best in me. Our last project together, Between Two Worlds, I played a ghost who’s still trying to have sex with his ‘new’ girlfriend - he died just before he had the chance to consummate their relationship. I was severely punished during that production. That was the project I talked about in a previous post, The Stuntman, where I talked about the leg cramps I suffered while chasing after cars ‘effortlessly’ as a ghost and getting knocked down by cars while going to buy condoms. Only God knows what Sneeze has in store for me this time – it’s supposed to be in a forest. Oooh I love sick!

At least my hectic week had a good jumpstart during the weekend. Went over to a friend’s with Nse my bosom friend and stuffed my self silly with pounded yam and sublime bitter leaf soup! I made sure I carted some home with me and needless to say, it’s all gone. Anyway, thought I’d share, as usual, my week with you guys. I have to rush off hit the road before the hydra headed Lagos traffic catches me in its fangs. Have a great week everyone!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Swimming

Good week everyone and tons of apologies for not making the post for the last two weeks. I was in Ghana for a shoot and believe it or not I had no access to the internet. If only I knew what I know now about the blackberry. I’m beginning to see the use of that little gadget more and more everyday that passes by. I don’t know why I’m always the last to embrace new technologies. The problem, I think, is that I do not see the point of buying something just because everyone else is buying it, at least until I begin to see the need for the something in my life. So with hulking grudging reluctance, I humbly submit that I do have need for the blackberry to keep in contact with you my dear readers.

I know you’re expecting news from my first time in Accra, Ghana But sadly there is very little to talk about because I was on set for most of the time. What I can say though is that Ghana is one hot country. It was so hot I had to plan and rehearse what I wanted to do for the day and dash out with the ferocity of a mother hen taking a break from trying to hatch her eggs to forage for food. Oh, just as an aside, did I tell you it was my birthday yesterday? I know, Frieda says it all the time; I love attention so I thank you to keep the belated wishes coming!

The project I worked on was a sort of romantic comedy where I played an egotistical presenter of a popular reality show who was at loggerheads with a female co presenter with an equally inflated ego in the person of Uche Jombo. It was good fun bickering and finding all sorts of subtle insulting words to hurl at each other. The crunch came as the scene where I had to save her from drowning fast approached. You see, I had just given up a vice that I have long struggled with (and no, I am not telling you what vice it was/is? – Mama might read this someday) and as a result began to gain weight at an astronomical rate. It didn’t help that the lady who took care of our welfare was especially fond of me in a mother and son sort of way. She was one of those wonderful women for whom cooking is an expression of love and have a firm idea of how that love should be reciprocated. It was a daily battle to keep my rations as low as possible instead of the terrifying platters that were placed before me at every given opportunity. All my morning rope jumping didn’t seem to have much of an effect in my battle of the bulge.
The day finally came and I put on my shorts but kept my T-shirt on till the very last moment, sucked my tummy in, jumped into the pool and stayed in there until it became absolutely necessary that I came out. My efforts at acting – for which I was paid – took second place to trying to suck my tummy in all through the scene, pretty much like those 40’s to 60’s movies where octogenarian star actors try to be heroes saving damsels in distress. I was supposed to, on leaving the pool, brush aside a cantankerous ‘Uche’, accidentally shove her into the pool, realise that she is drowning, dive in to save her and drag her out of the pool. Now imagine me doing all this while trying to hang on to my dignity. I kept my verbal responses to her tirades at the barest minimum – my lungs had more important interests to protect. I went through all that pain only to realise later that Uche in her BB mania had tweeted a very nice snapshot of our shenanigans which was surreptitiously snapped up by one of the dreaded gossip columnist’s blogsites. I am in trouble! Those spare rolls revealed. The titters! I’m dumping you Frieda; my new girlfriend’s the gym. Until my affair with her is over, you are taking second place! It’s for your benefit anyway considering how much you love ‘it’! Hehehe!

Well you heard it from me first so don’t pay any mind to any stale second hand tales that will be coming your way. Once again, many apologies for the lengthy hiatus. Do have a great week everyone!

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!