THE IMMORTALITY OF DEATH

Before I start with the real post of today I have something to tell everyone…drumroll I am going natural. Sounds like something I’ve said before, anyhues, I am freaking out and I mean it big time; I’m still trying to decide whether or not I want to big chop and what pros and cons are involved. And yes my last relaxer was in Nov.2012, wish me luck

To today’s post, I want to talk about the dark, scary word, death. Yes, it would appear it has been trailing me for a while now, and no I do not mean that literally. Every blog I read happens to have a very genuine piece on the positivity of living and how ‘the only guarantee in life is death.’ Now I’m not one to meditate on death or anything akin to loss because the whole idea around death bloody scares me. A lot. But yesterday for the first time I allowed myself to wonder the many possibilities of death, if nothing else is guaranteed, if my chance at meeting my soul-mate isn’t guaranteed and my chance at owning an estate in banana either, if the possibility of me traveling to Spain isn’t guaranteed then I might as well reflect on the one thing that is sure: that whether or not I agree someday my end will come.

I hate to think that someday I will no longer be there to put smiles on faces and annoy the bugs out of my sister. I hate to think that someday all I will be to someone is a memory, a fleeting memory; I hate to think that all I’ll be someday is a picture filling the frames, the one that once was.

I’ve just lost somebody in the family and I have to admit-I never cried, not because she didn’t matter, it just never occurred to me to cry, even if at least. Yes we weren’t close but she was the only one who called me ‘abutu,’ now no one will ever call me that, most likely not even I will remember. I don’t remember the last time I saw her but I do remember her, low-cut and a very big smile telling me how naughty I was as a little girl. The most impressionable realization after her death for me is how life is going on even after she’s passed on: strangers hear the news and go about their businesses, the birds don’t stop chirping, people still buy and sell and really nothing comes to a stand still-not even in that one minute of silence. I certainly don’t expect the hypocritical show of tears that exist for the entertainment of guests who’ve come to pay condolences, but maybe I expect a little bit more solemnity in the way people carry on with their lives. I don’t in any way suggest that lives stop just because someone is no more, instead maybe a bit more reference for the dead by subtly including them in our everyday lives because they once were a part of our everyday.

I’m not trying to make anyone feel guilty; all I’m driving at is the minimalism of our existence after our existence, because eventually life will have to go on without the dead. I think of death and the only thing that comes into my mind is b***h. why in the world did death come to being, why does something so painful and selfish have to be a part of who we are, why do we have to sleep next to someone and wake up without them able to say ‘I love you,’ why?

To crown it all not everyone will die a peaceful, uneventful death. Some will be slaughter like chickens for Christmas (I promise to never slaughter any animal with my hands), some will die in a car-crash, some will be hit by a stray bullet, some will fall and hit their head, some from cancer, poison and some just die. In all of this it hurts to know that anybody whether good or bad will die this way. What if only the bad people were burnt to death? What if only the wicked was being hit by stray bullets, wouldn’t the world be a better place. Just like most people, I’m sure; if I could go back to the Garden of Eden I would stop Eve from eating the fruit. But here we are thousands of years since then with no hope of rewinding time and the stark reality of death every day. I do not wish to die soon, neither do I wish to loose any of my loved ones, yet there’s the truth that I can never really keep us alive-makes me wish for a cure to mortality.

I have no idea when my end will come but of these things I’m sure: I’m scared of death, I want to do the things that define me, I want to live a live that pleases God and me, I want to inspire and help people to be their best, and I never want to stop laughing-I guess that’s why I’m called Kookaburra.

To all those who’ve lost someone dear to your heart I want to tell you, from an amateur, that your life really doesn’t have to revolve around their death. They will always be a part of your once upon a time and that is what matters, that they share a part of who we were.

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THE PROBLEM WITH NIGERIA

I have a confession to make: I am greedy, I am just as greedy as the next Nigerian politician. I take the money my father is too preoccupied to care about and take just a bit(I promise) of his perfume, all under the guise that he’s my father, what ever belongs to him automatically belongs to me.

Lately I’ve been assailed on all sides by the increasing menace of greed that has become our second nature in Nigeria. First it is that the politicians are stealing from the people now it is the bookstores stealing form the authors, talking about they need to pay rent, I’m like really! Why on earth did you choose your store in a up-scale property knowing fully well that what you sold couldn’t pay the bill, after all what the reader is reading isn’t the house. I bet none of those readers dream of the store those books were sold in while reading. So I ask you bookseller, would it really matter if you sold your book in the moon?

I sat today and analyzed, what if, what if starting from the local govt. chairman everyone wasn’t about personal gain, what if the local govt. chairman cared enough to provide basic amenities for that community; what if those bookstores sold according to their signed agreement with the authors; what if the company’s MD realized that whatever good or bad you did in life will always come back to haunt you, what if he used the company’s potential to establish it instead of use it for his own personal achievement?

But alas it is easy to recognize the fault of authority without seeing the one standing right in front of us. My first instinct is to cower in fear and protect me and my own-just like the greedy politicians would-but I realize that the people that changed the world did so because they stood up against what was wrong. I wish the best for my country, but I should know better that I’m not alone.

I have put myself in the position of these authorities and have to admit rather shamefully that I am no better off. Me who would unabashedly reel lies out of my mouth, me who thinks taking those N50 notes off my father’s table is OK, abi he’s my father, me who takes a few leaves of paper off the office printer without prior permission, talking about there’s plenty, yet I am the same person who angrily lashes out at the bloody thieves called politicians. Yet I come from a place of deep care and worry for the future of my country.

Nevertheless I would salute my own courage to see myself for who I really am-a greedy well-meaning Nigerian, just like those bloody politicians, because once upon a time, when they had no understanding of the drunkenness of power, all they wanted was a better Nigeria.

I have chosen to speak the truth from today, even though I’ve become very comfortable with the flow of lies from my stomach. And yes I will try and not dupe my father, although it’s going to be a little bit tricky. It so turns out that the little things are the ones that matter. If every greedy politician grew up upholding the value of integrity, if they grew up knowing it will never be alright to take that eraser that was left behind, maybe, just maybe Nigeria will never have to deal with ‘the corrupt government.’

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MY BELIEFS

There are times like today when I just sit and wonder about the awesomeness of God:

I believe that God is in the heavens

I believe he’s in the wind

in fact I believe God is in me

God created the world and placed his creation to dominate

I know he placed me here for purpose

 

I called and heard nothing

Searched and found nothing

Only to realize the issue was me

I cried and cried hoping that luck would smile on me and see my helplessness enough to save me

But alas! A tear is just that-a tear

 

I believe in the God I don’t see

The one that resides inside of me

I believe I slept and woke under his watchful eyes

I believe he cares even when I’m too distrut to notice

I believe he sees and is warmed by my tears

I believe he loves me even when I don’t understand his reasons

I believe he strokes my hair reassuring me that he’s always there

I believe his love no matter how abstract

I believe his touch no matter how elusive

I believe in him however he is

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JUST TALK

So I’ve been writing in those silent moments of mine and thought I should share, this piece was inspired by someone who was angry with me and didn’t want to talk:

Still you’ve remained silent despite all my plea for you to just talk

Just talk, through our silence and long distances

Just talk, despite the constriction in your throat and the anger welling in your chest

Just talk, talk and break the barrier in between

Talk so finally your soul will know rest

Talk like you’ve always wanted to

Talk and scream let your voice reach the mountain top

Talk let all the birds of the sky gather to listen

Talk let all the fishes in the sea gather into the fisherman’s net

Talk so finally my soul will come to know yours                                                             

Talk so that in our confusion we find each other

Talk and send your words to release the chained men

Talk let your words heal their soul

Talk like the powerful men of yesterday

Talk in the splendor of your own bravery

Talk like the roar of an angry lion

Talk like the venomous snake out on a kill

Talk for in this will you find fullness

Talk like you really want to, please just talk.

 

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THE MONTHS IN BETWEEN

OK, two long months have come and gone, not to forget my experience-filled I.T period. Through it all I’m making decisions and doing new things-trust me when I say new, as in never done before.

I’m actually thinking of dumping this blog seeing as I’m the last thing from committed right now but not yet; just maybe somebody somewhere is reading my not-so-perfect musings. Hmm, I’m growing and really there’s no better place to grow than here-on earth.

Yesterday I went to the big, big mens’ area, the V.I’s, and I felt a very deep urge to go to the bananas. Yes I said it, banana Island. I would love to post some pictures of the now dormant beach that inspired my banana desire but I can’t so I hope my words would do.

Is it only me that has this almost groin-aching desire to own property (-ies) on the Island? I stood there, six floors above ground looking at the calm waters beyond the sea-washed sands and just knew there was no way I didn’t want to be a part of this, the calm serenity, the mind elating scenery, all of it. But alas, I’m a 20-something year old with no job-not searching though, no passion whatsoever for what I’m doing and absolutely no clue what I want to do with my life. So tell me, how do I get something something millions to buy land, talk less to build it, on- the- Island. Hmm-hmm, those where my exact thoughts as I looked at the very eye-pleasing scenario in front of me.

I know I’ll be great, no doubt about that; I’ll own my own home, not willing to settle, and I know I’m going to be all I’ve dreamed in my head but I look at myself sometimes and wonder that the future is too far off. I came up with things I’d like to do before I die:

 

  • Give my life to Christ, can’t risk eternity burning.
  • At least tour banana Island, even if land finishes before I blow.
  • Travel round the world, and no not literally, at least one country in every continent.
  • Live in my own home, designed just the way it is in my head.
  • Take pictures and keep memories that matter.
  • plus other things I’m too distracted to remember, oh and yes, fall in love, more like stand in love.

I’ve spent more time browsing than doing any sensible office work plus I’ve decided to go natural, although I might have to diss the idea of locks, just for now. Sunesis, tell me you’re excited with that news. I hope to get the book, hair story-untangling the roots of black hair in America by Ayana D. Byrd and Lori L. Tharps, cross my fingers. To anybody out there reading this, a word of encouragement.

“When you feel yourself to be in a critical condition, you must treat yourself as you would a sick friend.”- Julia Cameron. Adios amigo

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LAGOS DIARIES (V)

I’ve had to take this rather drastic step, there’s supposed to be an article before this but there’s a lot of reasons why I have to skip it, please bear with me but you can look forward to it in my upcoming memoir-Lagos diaries; meanwhile I’d like for you to visit heatherllindsey.blogspot.com, it’s an amazing blog.

For this month’s appetizer I’m going to be rushing the articles, please bear with me. Enjoy and before I forget, happy new month.

DAY 1

It is my first day alone in Lagos and I already have a scar to show for it. I’m not angry or even frustrated, just resigned. I’d decided before today to savor every bit of my alone time in Lagos, even if I ended up crying.

The journey from Ikorodu to Ojuelegba wasn’t eventful save for the pain I was feeling from the weight of my luggage on my laps and the dirty look I got from the bus attendant when I almost forgot to pay my bus fare. Traffic was mild but that is not to say I didn’t have my share of discomfort. The journey was surprisingly smooth until Lawanson; I’m very sure I paid fully even if everybody else didn’t-which is unlikely-maybe I just wasn’t prepared enough. The bus driver stopped where he thought was convenient for him and didn’t even have enough courtesy to tell us that was it for him, I don’t even know why I would think of a danfo driver as gentlemanly, it would be ridiculous and surprising-if I ever met one. Instead he put off the engine and started shouting the name of his colleague in the park leaving me with the only option of walking all the way to the next bus stop with my heavy luggage-it was my first initiation rite into the life of Lagos hustling.

I took a bike to my destination since it was the only way I could think of, I wasn’t going to walk just because I wanted to save money. I’m very skeptical about bikes, I can’t remember ever feeling settled on a bike and today was no different. Maybe if there wasn’t pothole and ditches on the road and if the other bike rider didn’t drive ridiculously close to the one I was on-almost like he was making a point that his bike could also run on speed-I wouldn’t feel so unsettled but every time we did I thought that falling off the bike was inevitable for me, I was shifting on the bike with every bump we hit. What I wanted was to get home in one piece, and I almost did, until I had to get off the bike just in front of my house; having to walk a rowdy street with a big box isn’t easy enough not to talk of riding on a bike with one.

Maneuvering the load on your lap onto the ground should be easy but for the fact that you have to loose a zip; still nothing prepares you to have your leg burnt-by the silencer-that’s what happened to me and I don’t know that I’m over it yet, at least not the pain, I’ve been trying to decide against riding on a bike but the decision is already made for me as it is.

I enter the house on the verge of tears, not because I’m feeling any pain but because I’m disappointed that I almost had the most perfect day in Lagos and I’m going to have to go through the rest of the day alone. I’ve refused to shed the tears, I signed up for this-being away from home, walking the road alone, becoming my own woman, and I will see it to the end.

I have to be on the road tomorrow and I’m looking forward to it, even if my legs are pulled out, I’ll at least get to see my sister.

DAY 2

A thorough Lagos living would involve waking up as early as possible to the scuffle of feet, driving through Lagos and spending time in the traffic, depending on how the day is, getting to work, closing from work and meeting an even more frustrating traffic than in the morning, getting home too tired to cook, ending up in bed every bone in your body resting and preparing for yet another day in Lagos.

Lagos isn’t a bad city-bad will be appropriate if the average Lagos living didn’t inspire laugh in you; bad will be appropriate if there was no substance to Lagos living. But there is a substance to Lagos living, a cause even, Lagos inspires joy in me, a joy I don’t necessarily want to feel but feel all the same

I’m happy becoming a woman in Lagos, I’m maturing-that’s what my aunty said. Fortunately for me I don’t have to ride a bike this morning because I’m with my father, I took the not so long trek to the bus stop. The sun today is very hot and leaves me sweating.

The bus driver takes an amusing interest in me and decides that the only way he would compliment me is by kissing me, I don’t mean a full kiss, this kiss didn’t involve lips it was an expressive kiss full of spit. Had I known that the driver turned to address me I might have shifted but I didn’t know and I received his words with an unselfish bath of spit to my face. Covering my mouth did me no good because the man’s mouth odor stayed with me.

My father told me never to answer when anybody hisses because I have a name, but when the bus driver hissed I felt obliged to answer especially as I thought I might have forgotten something in his bus. I turn to see that I didn’t forget anything, in fact the driver only wanted to know the relationship between me and the man I was walking with.

I’m amazed at how I feel being in a rickshaw and having the breeze in my face, I couldn’t have been wrong when I came up with the theory that moving is living. I feel alive the most when I’m moving-on the road-without the restriction of a room and the same things that’ll be in the same place for the most part of the year if not all year round. I’m trying to tell myself that it’s only temporal but it feels almost eternal, peaceful even, that is until the traffic of rush hour. I want to remain this way, me in a rickshaw, the breeze in my face, no traffic-only if I didn’t feel like I was falling off it.

The conductor sits uncomfortably close to me but I endure it in good faith after all I choose to sit by the door, until his sticky arm starts brushing mine, and not just that, his body is resting on mine. Personally I don’t believe those bus conductors take their bath, what can possibly be the explanation for a smelling body very early in the morning. Thank God he decided that sitting down wasn’t the best for him, I thought I was free until he decided to stand facing me-why do I almost always go through this? The conductor doesn’t have my change so on stepping out of the bus only after I insist on having my change, he gives me and another passenger hundred naira to share, I can’t understand how he expects that we’ll look for change. I get angry and release the money to the man but he insists that I collect it, I strongly believe in ‘ladies come first,’ I collected the hundred naira in place of the fifty naira I was supposed to collect.

DAY 3

I cannot understand a lot of things, like why I’m sitting beside two people who’d rather sit like the seat is their father’s and I didn’t pay for it; I also don’t understand the old woman’s insistence on paying thirty naira when the driver clearly told her it was fifty naira before entering the bus; I don’t understand too why the conductor is pointing and explaining to the sky like he’s a lunatic, if he wanted to vent he could have done that before he stopped the bus to allow her off, yet again I can’t understand why the man behind me keeps screaming for his change when the driver earlier announced that he didn’t have change and why I’m typing on a bike, it’s not like I’m confident on a bike.

There’s a bit of traffic and I see a man sticking his head out of his window. He’s trying to come out of his window-to fight another driver, he was driving a jeep. Apparently his car collided with a smaller car and he was claiming the other driver hit his car. The last I saw of that scene was the jeep driver holding the shirt of the other driver and the other driver weakly defending himself.

I’m not too tired but I’m slow and resigned and I think a little bit frustrated. The bus stopped at Ojuelegba but I didn’t know; I sat in the bus not particularly thinking anything, just looking and sipping on an empty wrap of ice-cream. Instinctively I knew the bus had gone past Ojuelegba, although I’m not too familiar with most of the routes I knew I wasn’t supposed to pass the bridge, the bus was on the bridge. So I shouted ‘Ojuelegba wa o’ to the conductor who looked like he could stab me then he asked where I was when he called Ojuelegba, I hadn’t heard anything, I was unsettled inside but feigned anger so nobody would bruise my ego. Then people in the bus gave me suggestions on how to go back to Ojuelegba from where I was. Stubbornly I refused all suggestions and said I’d go all the way to Mushin and back; the woman beside me then told me that if I did I would have to pay more. I didn’t want to be meat for the conductor; as soon as the driver stopped the bus, I got down and having received instruction from the woman beside me took a bus back to Ojuelegba.

The conductor in the Ojuelegba-Lawanson bus is an old man; he looks confused but has an air of confidence around him-an unrefined kind of confidence-he looks to be about fifty years of age. I’m worried for him with the way he’s hopping off and unto the bus; he doesn’t have the same kind of energy as the younger conductors. He’s arguing with some people in the bus because he doesn’t have their change, I think the people are being mean to him, he gives a hundred and fifty naira change to someone who should collect fifty naira change; different passengers are showing their displeasure but he continues to sort the change he can gather.

It seems I always find reasons to spend money when I’m on the road, I’ve spent more than my budget for this week and the only way I can correct it is to trek the routes I can trek. I get down at Lawanson bus stop very prepared to walk all the way and feast on the biggest bowl of garri I can find at home. At the mouth of the bus stop are usually Okada riders waiting for customers, sometimes they can be annoyingly aggressive; I was walking when this Okada rider sped out of the line of Okada riders. I didn’t notice him initially until he almost rode into me, I didn’t ask for his service so in anger I shouted ’why don’t you just crush me,’ I didn’t stop to see the look on his face.

The seemingly poor people of Lagos don’t look poor; they’re just ordinary people with extraordinary problems or ignorance. They are very normal people with dreams, love and hate. I was looking at their faces to read something, maybe hunger or a depressing kind of sadness but they have none of it written on their faces. They smile jut as beautifully as my mother does and love just as purely as I love my brother. Some of these children wear only pants about the street but seeing them run around with big smiles on their faces makes the reality of their situation non-existent. Most of the women tie wrappers round their waists and headgear but they never wear their problem on even when they live in one room with their husbands and children.

There is a beggar on the street, sometimes I’m angry at the way he shouts his need for alms but mostly I feel for him. He must have dreamt bigger dreams once upon a time but just how does a beggar in a street corner achieve his dream when he has nothing to feed himself with, or why else would he seat in a street corner begging? Whenever he wants to shout he tilts his head up as if for emphasis. I have never seen anyone give him money.

DAY 4

It was supposed to be my first day at work today but it turned out that I didn’t quite have an appointment.

Disappointed, confused and unsure about what to do I left the company to go home, I hadn’t planned for this, I was supposed to have a plan for the whole of today; go to work, be introduced to new people, buy any roadside junk I’m lucky to find, come back home and tell tales about my first day at work but as it turned out I was being stirred in another direction entirely.

I sat in the bus not particularly excited or expectant but I was aware that I was gradually leaving my mother’s apron string, I was also aware that I was enjoying the time I spent being on the road, I was aware of the people inside the bus with resigned and almost tired looks on their faces and it made me almost forget about my own worries.

Why is it that every day for the past three days, I’ve seen people fight on the road? In the first two days it involved danfo drivers and BRT drivers but today it’s between a private car driver and a tanker driver, they all argue about hitting each other’s car. Patience is a virtue most drivers lack.

Finding a bus from Ketu to my bus-stop was easy, just as I entered the bus and was enjoying the plantain chips and drink I’d bought, a man entered and asked me “what is this, is this blood?” I was forced to turn my head to the unwelcoming sight of a stained danfo seat-it was my first. I didn’t quite understand why he asked me what it was if he obviously already knew what it was. We sat in silence and endured watching two women argue about who will seat at the end of the seat because of their load and how early they will get off the bus; we also endured the boy who was supposed to be the conductor collect money from everybody in the bus and claim that there was no change.

I have decided from my very first day on Lagos Street that no conductor will owe me anything, even if it was ten naira except I want to let it go and such instances wouldn’t be very many. I collect my five hundred naira back and give him exactly two hundred and fifty naira for the bus fare, but that is only after he’d been announcing that I should pay.

I read somewhere that poor people are proud but I was yet to confirm it until today-in the bus-with the driver. For some reason that I couldn’t fathom the driver came to the conclusion that something was wrong with the bus and steered the bus onto the side, away from the road, in a very bushy area. There was no way I wasn’t going to be suspicious, I half expected that part of the people in the bus will be kidnappers that have connived with the driver so that every one of the kidnappers both the ones in the bus and the ones in the bush would jump at the innocent ones and start chopping our heads off.

The people in the bus on noticing that the driver had stopped asked what was going on but he didn’t answer; it wasn’t until the people in the bus started commenting on his pride that I remembered what I’d read about poor people and their pride. The proud driver lifted his seat and I was sure he was going to bring out a gun, but he didn’t, instead he brought out some wires and continued to ignore the passengers’ questions. I started pleading the blood of Jesus. I was sitting at the other end of the seat and had another exit on my side. The driver had slightly opened the door on my side so I took the privilege to open it totally just in case so I would be able to jump out, but I didn’t have to because after about fifteen minutes with a mute driver and fifteen angry passengers we continued towards Ikorodu. I can only hope that this isn’t something I’ll have to deal with every day; I had the same problem with the bus of yesterday.

Sitting inside a danfo bus doesn’t need any skill because it’ just sitting you’ll be doing, the only exception is when you’re sitting with people who feel you’ve wronged them just because you’re wearing a suit. Getting out of the bus on the other hand requires all the expertise you can get, especially in the bus from Ketu to Ikorodu. Today I had no extra baggage on me so I had only myself to worry about but it was no joke. There usually are three people on a row, two people on a two-seater and one person on a pull out chair. It was time for me to get off and I had no clue how to do so, there was no way it was going to be comfortable for me and the man sitting beside me particularly if he was going to remain on his seat. The space between the seat I sat on and the one directly in front was unforgiveable and I was to make it out of the bus in no time because there were other impatient people in the bus. The man sitting beside me must have endured a lot of discomfort-even worse-because I had to squeeze, step and push my way out. Just before I jumped out of the bus, the man beside me asked if I’d collected my change and I was touched by his concern. I jumped out of the bus and felt like a bird that’d been let out of a cage.

I hadn’t been home in three days and I missed a lot; the bread I absently devoured on my way to the kitchen, my dogs, our kitchen-haven’t seen anything like it in three days, my mum, my grandmum and our househelp.

The ticket lady always amuses me; she’s the same one in the Odonguyan-Ketu bus. She always has a cold look on her face and I can tell by the tribal mark on her face that she’s Yoruba. She’s good to look at if only she would smile. I’ve often thought how routine and boring her job is, doing the same thing sharing tickets, seeing the same faces and passing the same route. I’m almost sympathetic for her and I conclude that the reason she always has a cold look is because she’s tired of her job although I don’t know what she’ll rather be doing.

The bus driver is nowhere to be found, I think he went to eat just like the last bus driver. People in the bus are angry and shout their worry to the ticket lady. She presses the horn and I’m drawn to the fluidity of her action, like she’s used to it.

There’s another ticket lady in the bus, she’s jovial unlike the first ticket lady; I don’t talk to this ticket lady but I like her spirit, she even talks freely with the bus driver. I don’t know exactly what happened in Ikorodu garage but I heard the two ticket ladies calling people onto the bus and loud bangs on the bus; two touts were banging the bus because according to them the first ticket lady was being rude to them. I can tell that the tout hanging on the bus will do no harm to the first ticket lady, he’s only threatening her, she’s scared but doesn’t show it. She just shouts back at him. The second ticket lady reprimands the tout but she’s smiling, the tout slaps her butt and gets off the bus.

I never realized before today that the ticket ladies had to balance their books. The second ticket lady seats in front of me and calculates what I take to be the number of tickets she’s sold today. She has a fine handwriting.

The traffic from Ojota to Ketu was normal and by normal I mean faster than a snail speed but slower than a rabbit’s. After collecting money from everyone in the bus, the conductor decided to check the cause of the traffic. He stepped out and strolled away from the bus. I had forgotten that the bus had a conductor when he jumped back on the bus and continued to call people into the bus.

When I see private cars in the traffic at 10am, I’m concerned and bothered for them but my mum once told me that most of those people work afternoon shifts, I’m still concerned and find it hard to believe, especially with the number of them on the road.

Wonders never really end, I thought I’d seen the last of it when I got my first kiss but today I got what I didn’t get before the kiss-a toast. Different characters form Lagos, the extravagant woman wearing three big rings on one hand, a big statement earring on her ear and an expensive looking material for clothe-but you can tell that they’re all cheap; also is the man that seats beside you who laughs because you’re laughing; even the conductor that collects your change from you because he has to pay the passengers that’ll get down before you do.

You see a lady will naturally be flattered if she’s been wooed by the man of her dreams but when it comes from her busing counterpart it leaves a lot to be desired. The conductor was just done lamenting about how he shouldn’t be doing the job but for condition, he hadn’t seen the people waiting by the bus-stop and was being apprehended by the driver. The bus-stop people were running to catch the bus only to hear the price and stagger back like they’d been hit by a running child. With the way the bus-stop people ran I thought there was no way they were going to miss this bus, I saw the way they held back after that run and I laughed. The man beside me joined in the laugh, he was saying something but I didn’t hear him. Then I saw the chemist man look at me-he looked like an Ibo chemist-his stare looked funny so I started laughing all over. Did he think his stare charmed me? He kept looking back at me, he was on the seat before mine until someone stepped off the bus and he moved to my seat, luckily for me there was a man in between us. He stared until we got off the bus, I could tell that he was excited that we were getting down at the same bus, I wondered what he’ll have done had I come down before this place. He decided to man up and of all pick-up line to use he said “abeg help me hold am” meaning I should hold his Ghana-must-go bag for him.

DAY 5

Being on the road feels like habit yet it’s only been four days on the road. I’m amazed at how easily I’ve slipped into Lagos living. Just walking with the crowd and having a sense of destination; I’m still very scared to cross the express road and I don’t trust totally but I’m loving what lies ahead of me every morning, I love it that I can bring a smile to a stranger’s face, I love it that there’s something different and new with each passing day.

Everything appears to have been prepared for me this morning. Even before I get to the bus-stop I can already see an empty bus heading to my destination. I am the first to get there but I see something and I’m not quite sure I want to enter: a young man with just one leg standing beside the bus. I move back and wait for someone to enter the bus before I do. I don’t know how this man wants to drive with one leg but I’m sure I’m not prepared to die. Another man enters the driver seat and I relax, I am the first passenger in the bus. The one-leg conductor jumps on and off the bus as he calls people in, he does it as if he enjoys it, he has a speed that my eyes can’t keep up with. As he hangs on the bus I’m scared for him that a nearby bus will throw him off. He doesn’t look worried, he looks just like every other Lagosian trying to make a living but unlike other conductors he has his shirt on.

I will be correct to say that there’s no regard for time-from organizations. I’ve especially hated it that I have to wait in a hospital. I’m yet to find an answer as to what it is that office people do that they waste precious time. All I’ve seen them do is walk about, gist among themselves and look lost yet they always claim they’re busy. If I had the chance, many workers will be sacked, who needs someone that has no regard for their job and for the people they’re to serve? And to think that they’re been paid.

I’ve spent the better part of this morning waiting for someone that claims to be busy and now I’m waiting for nurses who’re too busy to attend to me. I want to slap sense into one of them, what I have to do shouldn’t take up to 10mins yet I’ve spent exactly 75mins here without even as much as a ‘we’ll be with you shortly,’ I decide to rebel and the only way is to ignore the people who walk in; I’m done being nice, greeting everyone that comes in as though I owe them. By the way the morning isn’t particularly good.

I don’t even have the patience to read, it’s not helping that I’m pretending to because I keep reading the same line over. So far I’ve spent over four hours waiting for people who have no regard whatsoever for my time.

I finally get attention but I would have preferred those hours of waiting to the times supposedly doing tests. I thought a written form was to be filled by the subject. I would have asked the nurse to give me the form but I didn’t want to risk sounding rude so you can imagine my subjection when she spells my name wrongly. I patiently endure the first round of questions but when she starts asking if my family has history of madness I thought something was not right. She proceeds to ask if my family has history of ulcer, diabetes and asks if I drink, smoke or use drugs-of course if I was I would never say yes, besides isn’t there tests they could run on me to prove if I was lying or not.

Surviving this test had to be instinctive for me, what else did I have? But I didn’t understand or even prepare for the gravity of these tests. Let’s just say I had the most humiliating hospital test rounds ever. Is this what people go through to get a job or is the problem just with the people involved?

I got out at about 2:00am with a bottle of cold drink on my mind. I found an ice-cream seller a few distance from the company and asked for a solid wrap of Fan-ice but one wasn’t enough to quench my thirst. I felt like I could drink an ocean full of cold drink and not be filled. Before I entered another bus I bought a bottle of Lacasera, I didn’t slow down until I’d drank more than half of the bottle but I was still thirsty. The men on my sides made me uncomfortable, the one on one end looked suspicious while the other one had a sticky body and a head full of bumps, I even thought that he was deliberately allowing his arm to brush me.

The driver didn’t get to Ojuelegba bus-stop and he gave no explanation. I wasn’t sure that we’d gotten to Ojuelegba so I hung on the bus and asked the conductor who had come off if this was Ojuelegba. He shouted his yes at me. I walked on, even though I was angry, to the spot I was to board a bus to Lawanson but it turned out that only Yaba buses were available.

I’d been meaning to get some books from Shoprite for quite some time now, I wasn’t sure how to get there but I’ve always thought all I had to do was trek.

The rush in Lagos calms the mind, knowing you’re an active part of something big, not just sitting on your balcony looking at the same people, the same children with running noses, the same men scurrying after each other after their clubs have won, the same jobless men arguing about who is disrespecting who and the same dirt-filled gutters. This place looks familiar but I know it isn’t Lawanson; I’d been here before but I wasn’t sure where exactly I was until I saw the first bookshop. I walked further down and without any doubt knew I was in Yaba, how did I get here? The bus dropped me at Ojuelegba and I walked down the path the bus was to travel. Every disappointment they say is a blessing in disguise so I used the situation to my advantage-if I was going to be lost it should at least profit me-I looked for the book I wanted to get but didn’t find it. I didn’t walk any further because I knew if I did I would be lost for real, I’ve never been reported missing before.

I traced my steps back to where the bus initially dropped me and discovered that I only had to cross the road to get to where I would find a bus to Lawanson. Tiredness had taken a toll on me from my walk under the sun, I didn’t want to spend anymore but I needed a bottle of cold drink so I got another one for myself and trekked to where I thought was Shoprite. I was beginning to get too tired from walking under the sun and was contemplating if I should turn back but because I was too determined and was convinced that I was very close I kept walking. When I couldn’t go any further I stopped an Okada rider and asked how far I was from Shoprite and he said I was still very far. I was alarmed, I’d walked a long distance, wasn’t sure how to get transport to where I was coming from and didn’t know how far I had to go. He refused to take me saying he wasn’t going through that route. I called another Okada rider who accepted to take me at two hundred and fifty naira. I suspected that he was cheating me but at least he was offering to take me, I accepted with relieve. He must have thought me to be a regular with Okadas because he started telling me how Okadas weren’t allowed in that area and I needed to be sharp about getting down, I was on the bike so there was no way I could tell him to leave me where he’d taken me, all I could scream in his ears was how I was new to Okada riding and how I couldn’t jump off an Okada.

The Okada man was charming so it was easy for me to trust him. He kept telling me how I should take him to Shoprite because he was doing the impossible for me. I told him to use the money I was going to pay him to shop for himself. I’m not a confident Okada rider and I’ve always thought that I can never be. I often wonder how it is possible that Okada riders ride with the wind in their face as I always blink my eyes-uncontrollably. I think I was shaking on the bike so he told me to hold his waist; if he was thinking we were going to be presenting ourselves as a romantic couple on a bike date, he had to be joking. I know I look quiet and easily gullible but I am not. I told him no, I was ok but he kept insisting and I asked him why I should hold him.

I didn’t get the books I wanted to get. I suspect that I have luck in my genes because as soon as I got out of Shoprite I found a rickshaw heading for Ojuelegba. It was my first time seating in the front.

Lagos is scanty and it’s only 10:20am, I can almost count the number of people on the road; but there’s a sea of cars, the traffic is moving slowly. I alight at Ojuelegba and see just how easy the journey could have been had I boarded a bus from Ojuelegba. I’m thirsty yet again but this time I don’t feel as tired as before I began. I buy another bottle of drink and gulp almost all the content at once. I enter the bus heading to Lawanson and I see a boy peeping through the window, he’s begging for money. I bring out fifty naira for my transport fare and don’t intend to give him but he’s persistent and nobody has given him anything so far. I give him my fifty naira and he doesn’t even say thank you. My throat still feels parched after getting home, there’s no drink inside the fridge so I bring out a 150cl bottle of water and drink half the bottle in one gulp. My muscles relax as I sprawl on the bed and I’m relieved because work hasn’t started for me just yet.

****

‘Before you set out to something be sure not to have preconceived notion.’

As usual I didn’t have anything to do so I began today with Jide Alakija, Bella naija and Linda Ikeji’s blogs, I came earlier than my senior colleagues so I had no clue how our journey today would be. I’ve found a way to be busy in the office, thanks to the computer I’ve been given, I just browse and type-I’ve even been told that I’m fast-all well and good; for the most part I’m taken to be busy that way I don’t have to be anybody’s house-girl. During my spare time I learn how to organize office files, operate the scanner and also the photocopier machine.

I was being busy when my other colleagues came in and announced that we were going to Victoria Island around 8:30 this morning. I was beyond happy. This was my chance after many years, I’ve looked for an opportunity to even if only see that area as it’s been my idea of wealth understated all along plus almost every big company I admire is either in Victoria Island or Lekki.

The Lagos Island local government separates the real world from Lagos riches-that’s what I thought until Victoria Island. I’ve heard that there’s usually traffic in Victoria Island but this traffic is very normal, it’s not unusual, besides it’s not slow. I was very rudely welcomed with the most normal environment, I expected to see buildings that’ll make my jaw drop-I can’t remember where I got the idea from-I expected to see cars that I don’t see regularly, I expected to see rich people lining every area; although there’s a difference, it wasn’t as expensive looking as I’d expected. My mum once worked in this area and I can remember following her to the office, I don’t know why it is that I can’t relate what I once knew to what is now before me.

I counted about two danfo buses and one BRT bus and even though the street hawkers weren’t as concentrated as in Ketu hold-up they were there all the same. The environment gave me a feel of old Lagos, I could tell that most of the buildings were old, there was construction going on with most of the buildings; most of the cars on the street are privately owned but there are people in public buses. The streets didn’t immediately feel like Lagos, I almost fooled myself to thinking I was outside Lagos, still Lagos spirit lives here. The roads aren’t as exposed as other Lagos streets, there’re few people on the road and the ones walking are either laborers or office workers that I suspect are on break.

The houses are deliberate and distant yet closely-spaced. I see monumental buildings and marvel at the kind of sophistication the workers must enjoy. I’ve heard about Radisson blu, it’s inside, many of the shops and eateries here are like that, how much customers do they get? I stick my head out of the window and look at the high rise buildings and think what would have been had I been born when Lagos was a young city. I’m partly glad I wasn’t born then-I don’t have to tell tales of jumping into a bus through the window. I ask myself if I want to live here but I can’t answer just yet.

I see my mum’s former place of work, it’s different from what I used to know. We go through the bar-beach and I almost can’t recognize it, when I used to come here there were no stones at the end. It was open such that I could see the water just driving through, I didn’t see any water, there’re people selling on the beach, clothes on the stones and more stones in one place than I’ve ever seen. This road is much smaller than I knew it to be.

****

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LOOKING PAST MY…

LOOKING PAST MY FEARS

“It’s not what you don’t have that limits you, it is what you have and don’t know how to use.”-Steve Harris

“Our greatest fear should not be fear of failure but of succeeding at something that doesn’t really matter.”

“The first cause of living is to live and let live.”-Egbanubi Kehinde

“Every man carries in him the world in which he must live.”

“If you dare for nothing, you need hope for nothing.”

“You are always nearer than you think…the greatest opportunity is where you are. Do not despise your own place and hour.”

“The most important hing in our lives is what we’re doing now.”

“The future that you long for begins today.”

This was supposed to be a quotation but I found things I had to post. I’m presently posting from my office, yes, my office. and I would be having a kind of filling in with TW magazine. It’s always been my dream to work with a magazine. I have a baggage full of fear but I’m going with the mindset that I have to confront my fears to succeed. If you’re too fearful to take a decision, look past that fear, you’ll be happy you did. Wish me luck.

 

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