I could not, at any age, be content to take my place by the fireside and simply look on.
Life was meant to be lived!
I could not, at any age, be content to take my place by the fireside and simply look on.
Life was meant to be lived!
A couple of weeks ago, I read a comment on a popular Nigerian blog about marriage. The person was clearly annoyed with the idea that women pray for husbands and wondered if marriage had become the most critical success factor of a woman. I looked, replied to the comment but network was acting up so I moved on. But the thought just wouldn’t go away, especially as it seemed to be a hot topic; so though it’s been eons since I posted an article (forgive me, I had writer’s block, plus I was plotting on ‘bagging’ myself a husband. Mission accomplished so back to writing) make me sef talk my own. After all, my mouth belongs to me. Well…..so does this blog. Lol.
First of all, I am not a feminist. My husband constantly teases me to become one so that I can stop asking him to buy me expensive stuff, and instead buy it myself or better still, buy it for him. Well, that’s not gonna happen. God forbid. I did not suffer all these years at the hands of men for nothing. I have now come into my pampering stage and I will not be cheated. I simply refuse! In my home, I am staunchly not a feminist, not that I’m against it though. It just doesn’t apply to me inside my house. My husband must raise the chair if something gets stuck under it, must come and kill the cockroach on the wall (yes, I live in Lagos, there are cockroaches. Even in Asiwaju’s house sef), must help me change my tyre, must figure out what is wrong with my car when it doesn’t start and proffer solutions, must be more intellectual and must earn more than me. We are not equal; I don’t want us to be. I like it like that; to each, his own.
So did I pray for a husband? Are you joking? Seriously? Have you read all my blog posts about various heartbreaks and embarrassments? Of course I did. Do I think that marriage is the SI unit of success for me? Nope. But it was one of the things I wanted to achieve, and at a certain age.
In our society, whether we agree or not, whether we argue or not, marriage is a huge deal and a woman becomes her father’s daughter when she is able to ‘bag’ a man. A husband is a grand achievement. Before marriage, she belongs strictly to her mother, except on those occasions where she gets a Master’s degree or buys her father a black Range Rover with customised number plates. I lost my parents at an early age, so I was basically, community property. I yearned to have my own home, my own family. My own! ‘Our own’ and ‘my own’ no be the same, if you know what I mean.
So my prayers were for a husband (one that I would not want to suffocate in the morning when I look at him. And I got that. See, prayers work o, ojigbijigbijigbi *in papa Ajasco’s voice*), brainy children (working on that, including the brainy part), a career that I was passionate about, a nice house and of course a range rover sport (well, I haven’t gotten this yet but God is still in the business of answering prayers. May he lay it in your heart to donate one). The rest is between God and I. I didn’t just pray for a husband, I prayed and I blessed him. Midnight prayers o, I have done it. End of year cross-over prayers o, check. Easter vigil prayers, na today?! Early Christmas morning prayers, Toh! All done. I did deliverance in Mountain of fire. I even climbed Mount Sinai in Egypt and prayed there. What are you talking about!!!
When I clocked 28, I stopped those prayers. It was my way of accepting that I may never get married. So I prayed instead for my children. My argument was that though I couldn’t affect my marital outcome, I was going to be a mother, whether the devil liked it or not. It was not-negotiable. And I was okay with that fact. Really, I was. So I focused on my career and hustle to make more money and of course, on other prayer points. And I was happy. Did the desire go away, of course not. But I just stopped making it a priority.
Fast forward 2 years, my husband appeared; and I wasn’t even praying. See, the thing about it is, it makes you feel better. It does not mean you are carrying a billboard on your head, advertising for a husband. When you have been in a particularly nasty break-up ehn, you find yourself using the book of Leviticus to curse the idiot and the book of Ephesians to prophesy for a permanent solution so the nonsense can stop. Whether or not, marriage stops nonsense from happening to you, is a story for another day. But prayers come from the innermost desires of our heart.
So it stands to reason that while I don’t agree (not like my opinion counts sha) that marriage is the most critical factor in a woman’s success, I really do not find praying about it wrong. After all, if I can pray for light/no traffic on Eko bridge, I should be able to pray about much bigger things. But then again, to each, his own.
I cannot remember the first time I came to Lagos but I can tell you for free that I was terrified! I had grown up watching those comedies about how Lagos was a hustling place and that if you didn’t shine your eyes, your own don finish. I had heard the word ‘JJC’ in one of those movies and I was determined not to be one; though I was one. Do you remember ‘Lagos Na Wa’ with Polypompom? Oh my gosh! *doubles over in laughter*
Its easy to be intimidated by the sprawling city. My first reaction was that everyone was in a hurry. To this day, I may be only one that walks leisurely around but I’ll have to admit that my steps have quickened and my paces longer. And I don’t like it. When people say, “you this Lagos geh”, I am always quick to respond “I’m not a Lagos girl, I’m a bini girl”. But then I wonder, ‘why can’t I stay more than one week in any other place without feeling this crazy need to be back in ‘my Lagos’. Yes, its my Lagos now.
Where else can you find conductors like the ones in my Lagos. I don’t drive in Lagos and when I was still a JJC (If you don’t know what this means, I have nothing to say to you), I loved to take cabs. Hmmmm. You know cabs are cheap in Benin and I thought it was the same in Lagos. When them tear me bill ehn, nobody advised me to start entering buses. And I have grown to love Lagos buses; there is absolutely nothing like them.
You will always know the CMS buses from the Obalende buses. CMS buses are a contraption of rickety motor parts held together by bolts and visible ropes and they always smell like fish, sweat and bad mouth odor. If you are not sitting near a window, you are finished. You always wonder if the mismatched parts will not come apart when the machine (for lack of a better word) is turned on. Obalende buses are tad cleaner and still look like they will get to their destination. Some even have music. Let’s not talk about the BRT buses, I avoid them as much as I can. I’ve only boarded it twice in the 2 years since I relocated to Lagos and it terrified me. They drive off the road in traffic, on the bushy parts meant for pedestrians. How can a large, wobbly vehicle decide to do some James bond moves that will have the vehicle tilting dangerously like its about to fall on other vehicles? No way o. I’m just 29 and not ready to die. Even if I’m ready, certainly not by a nonsense BRT bus. God forbid!
Lagos may very well be the only place that people get on buses without having money to pay for the journey. That one still baffles me. And the funniest part is that when all hell breaks loose, their voices are the loudest and most strident. ‘You dey mad? Naim make you dey shout? Na wetin? Kilode! Ode niyen’. Then of course, those diehard conductors will never let the errant passenger go until either he comes up with the money or a Good Samaritan passenger does (which is always the case). So it stands to reason that if you have an interview or a crucial meeting, take extra money with you because you just may be paying someone else’s bus fare. That is the hustling spirit.
Then there is the case that happened to me so many times that I had no choice but to wise up. So on my way to Lekki Phase 1 (which is where I work) from Ajah (which is where I live), the bus fare on a sunny, traffic-less day is N150. I had given the conductor N200 Naira. We had gotten to Ikate and my change was not forthcoming though I had intermittently asked for it since I paid. “Conductor , may I have my change please”? He didn’t respond which was his exact response to my previous request. Everybody else kept quiet. I was beginning to wonder what the problem was. I could see that he had change and had given everybody else their’s so why was he giving me the silent treatment? By the time we got to the next bus stop, I had lost my temper and I exploded “My friend, will you give me my change? You dey crase for head abi you deaf? Give me my change now now as I dey look you so”. It was as if everyone woke up from their slumber as some asked him to give me my change. At that point he did while murmuring, “abeg take your change. Na because of N50 you dey shout? You no talk am small small” “No, you deaf since. Na you dey help me work my money abi? Idiot!”. Ehn! Bini girl like me; you want take me shine? If I hear.
The love between Lagos and I was definitely not at first sight. We had our bad times; those days where we were engaged in a supreme battle of wills and wits. But those days are long past. We’ve settled into a relationship based on genuine respect, fondness, our hyper nature and the fact that we have absolute faith that we were meant to be. The city still exasperates me but I’ve come to terms with the fact that we are like Husband and wife. We push and pull at each other but at night, we go to bed together and during tough times, we stand by each other’s side. Now, that true love.
My friends say I don’t believe in destiny. It’s not like I don’t believe in it but the thing is, I have always believed that if you want something, you’d better go and get it as it will not jump into your lap. Who we are today is formed by our environment, our circumstances and the experiences that we go through and if you have lived my life or better still, gone through my experiences with me, you might understand why I can be cynical at times.
Don’t get it wrong. I believe in faith. You know, in 2008, I attended Bible School (I know, I know, it’s unbelievable. Even I don’t believe it myself sometimes, especially when certain lewd thoughts enter my head), Word of Faith Bible Institute. I graduated with a distinction but there was a course that so worried my pastor that he had to call me into his office for a chat. As you can guess, that course was ‘Faith’. It was the only course I had a C. The rest were A’s, except Faith. I even passed Prayer.
Me? If a prayer is more than 15 minutes, my dear, you can be sure I am most likely thinking of something else. And I don’t pray in crowds. I just can’t shut out what the other people are saying. You know how Pentecostals like to shout as if the messenger angel is hard of hearing. So by the time, prayers are over, your ears are ringing like you stood near a cathedral communion bell. Suffice to say, the best place for me to pray still remains, a quiet place where I am all alone.
So my pastor called me and asked to talk to me. Didn’t I believe in faith? Was my faith level low? What was my relationship with my Lord and Savior? Did I doubt things because they were not being manifested in the physical (which is a nice way of asking if I am a doubting Thomas)? Did I need extra lessons? How could he help me? Plenty questions. Some I had answers to and some I preferred to remain mute because I simply didn’t have answers and there was no reason why I didn’t have answers.
I do believe in faith. A lot. But Faith has been so bastardized that its hard to understand it anymore. Now, I’ve learned to be practical. If the skies are grey, most likely, its gonna rain. So take an umbrella or a raincoat (Do people still wear that sef)? If you missed your period and you have been sexually active, you are most likely pregnant, so congrats. Safe delivery. If you haven’t read all year and its 30 minutes to the exam, you are most likely going to fail, so start saving for the next year’s school fees. Yes, there is nothing that prayer cannot solve but please let’s exercise a bit of restraint and take responsibility for our actions. I don’t understand what faith has got to do with certain issues, honestly. It is just so ridiculous sometimes.
Back to the destiny thing, If what will be will be, then why struggle for success at all? Oya, let’s all get naked and go dancing in the rain and hope that at the end of the year, we would all be successful, famous and stinkingly rich. Let’s all fold our hands and not work but hope and fast and pray that manna will fall from heaven like it did in the old testament (meanwhile, God fit just vex and it go happen o. It go be like ‘feem’).
Be honest. ‘No food for lazy man’. We all see that at the back of lorries and trailers, especially the old, rickety ones that look like they are about to fall on the nearest vehicle (and sometimes, sadly, they actually do). Forget the old lorry, remember the message. Because that’s the koko these days. Even yahoo boys gats to hustle. Sometimes they don’t even bathe for weeks, or brush their teeth but camp out at hidden cyber cafes or in their homes ‘yahoo-ing’ away. Trust me, I would know. I’m a Bini girl, we practically invented yahoo-yahoo (but don’t quote me anywhere).
I believe in practical faith. Yeah, I think I can safely call it that. Faith that actually makes sense. Not the type that the big man upstairs listens to in stunned silence and then erupts into laughter at the level of silliness. Practical faith works. At least for me. It is a rocking combination of realism, practicality and faith. Make what you will out of it, but that is what works for me. That being said, one thing I’m beginning to believe more and more is that the lines just fall into the right places at the right time if you are taking the right steps. Confused? Bear with me for a while.
I am happy where I am right now. I feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be. I might have taken my own sweet time getting here but I kinda feel this is a place I really should have been. Will I remain here? I honestly do not know. All I know is that it’s a journey. Last week, one of my ex-boyfriends proposed to me. As in, the serious stuff. And the truth is, If he hadn’t broken my heart (whatever was left of it anyway), looking at him now, I would never have been happy with him. Hindsight is so much more truthful. There are some journeys that teach us lessons and are meant to guide us. There are some that are just a waste of energy and time. Some experiences teach us, guide us, give us a map and help us re-assess our journey and some are just breathers – meant to distract us for a while. I believe people will end up where they are meant to be as long as they don’t stop moving in the right direction.
I don’t have all the answers. I may not even be making much sense (I knew I sucked at writing, but the wise ones said to never give up, right?). But one answer I do have is, with a bit of time and luck (I don’t believe in luck. The damn thing has never worked for me. Now, Grace loves me. That I believe in), everything will work out in the end. If its not okay, then its not the end. Now, that is Faith that works. How the heck did I ever get a C?
I’m so sorry, Ai.
They say, ‘To live in the hearts of those you love is not to die’. I have never really liked that saying. I still don’t. I don’t know why. I don’t want to lose anyone. I don’t want them to live in my heart. I want them to live in the physical world where I can touch them, love them, argue with them and hold them. But again they say, ‘If wishes were horses, beggars would ride’. I would not give up the memories of my loved ones for anything in the world.
I remember the first day I met Aisha Suleiman. She had breezed into Bundle of Joy Pre-School like she owned it. I say breezed because that was how she rolled. Her confidence was out of this world. For such a slim woman, it seemed like she could power the entire Southern part of Nigeria which is notorious for its epileptic/non-existent power supply. She wanted to enroll her son, Ayomide in my daycare facility. From the first moment I met her, I was fascinated by the strength and self assuredness that oozed from her. She spoke with the ‘britico’ accent of someone who had spent years abroad. I wanted her son in my facility but I wasn’t exactly sure of his seemingly ‘Stone-cold, Steve Austin’ mother. She looked like trouble.
The next time I saw Patricia, my gist partner, I told her about the ‘troublemaker londoner lady with her nonsense british or whatever accent she dey form’. How would I have known that she would become such a huge impact in my life? She did enroll her son and also basically enrolled me into her life. I remember how she used to come spend hours with me in the office, taking care of the kids, complaining about our family, bitching about life and browsing boohoo.com. She would browse and select what she wanted, pay her brother and ask him to send it to Nigeria for her. I remember when her customers would not pay her, she would complain to me and I would think of some ‘egbe-wager’ way to get the money back, most of it theoretical. Most of it I concocted so outlandishly just to make her smile and laugh. She had the greatest laugh in the world. She laughed without holding anything back, with her whole heart. Unlike me, I have mastered the art of laughing while thinking a dozen worrying and unpleasant thoughts. I loved her laugh. I loved her. I love her.
I remember her teasing that I might as well employ her as she basically came to the office everyday and spent hours there. All the kids knew her and loved her. The Parents got used to her as well and basically regarded her as a member of staff and were always shocked when She was introduced as a parent. Parents loved to come to the office to unwind and relax and gist with other parents. She started that.
I remember the day I visited her at the Hospital when she had a crisis. She had yelled on me for not coming to visit her earlier but quickly quieted down when I told her I was spending the entire day with her. That was the day I wrote ‘Taking back my Spiritual Leadership’. Aisha was a handful. She was like a steam roller, whatever that is. But her heart was so big! She was the perfect definition of ‘tough as nails on the outside, soft as a jelly on the inside’. My number one supporter and fan! My personal cheerleader!
Ayo was everything to her. Her pride and joy. Together, we made choices for him. What school he would attend, how she would raise money for his fees, and the best form of discipline for a first child. That was Aisha. She shared her life and could so easily include herself in your pain and trouble.
When I had to change cities, all she asked was, ‘what’s the plan’? She did not offer unsolicited advice, all she did was give me a shoulder to lean on, to support me and to remind me of what I wanted whenever I forgot. She was the one person who did not judge me or my choices.
Lagos! Now this thought has got me smiling ruefully. ‘Eseosa! Na so you be? Na Lagos make you change like this? If na abroad you come go nko? Person no ever see or hear from you again. My friend, you better change!’ I would yell right back and burst into laughter, promising that I would change and would keep in touch more. It happened once, twice, thrice,……..and it went on like this for 2 years.
2014. I knew she hadn’t called me in a while. It hit me one day at work. Aisha hadn’t called me in a while to yell at me for not keeping in touch. I made a mental note to call her before she called me. That was it. I made a mental note. A mental note.
2 days ago, I checked my bbm messages after a week. My boyfriend and I were fighting again for the gazillionth time and going through a phase that I had promised myself that I would not go through again. I had just moved into a new house and I was still trying to adjust and get ready for the life of traffic that it seemed was now my portion. I was broke. Water had stopped running and I was thinking of how to put a banana peel on the ground for my miserly new landlord and his bighead. My colleagues would not stop calling me that I made them come to work on a public holiday. Water poured on my laptop. I was tired of it all. As if these truly mattered! So I checked my bbm messages which I remember to do maybe once a week. As usual, there was a lot of broadcast messages which is what you get when you have about 500 contacts. I don’t even know what I am doing with 500 contacts. I started ending chats when I saw Hassan’s broadcast message from a while ago ‘We are now live at the wedding reception of Kate and Hussein…’ and a personal message that stated the website of the couple. Hassan was her younger brother and Hussein’s twin.
Curious and elated, I opened his dp. Aisha’s picture was his dp with the inscription, ‘RIP Sis’. Immediately I was irritated at people who would put people’s pic up with funny messages that they had forgotten to change form the last pic they put up. Immediately I pinged her to discuss the wedding. It bounced back. I called and her numbers were switched off. I started feeling a little afraid. I checked on Facebook but there was nothing. I heaved a sigh of relief but the little shadow of fear would not go away. I managed to ignore it for about 20 minutes but I couldn’t anymore and so pinged Hassan. It took a little while to respond but when he did, it wasn’t with good news. Aisha had died on April 1.
After the tears and sobs have dried off, all I feel is guilt. What is the meaning of a mental note? Why didn’t I just pick up the phone to call? Why? Would it have taken anything away from me? What was I so busy doing? She constantly checked up on me; made sure I was okay. Why couldn’t I have been a better friend? Why couldn’t I just call? I remember other friends who have blessed my life in so many ways that I do not keep in touch with. I am friendly enough to meet new people but keeping in touch seems like such a big deal to me and I don’t get it.
Chigozie and Joseph Efienokwu and their entire family have known me all my life and been there for me through it all. Heck, I literally planned Bundle of Joy with them. Adesuwa Dinyo, I have known since primary School and I would not be the dubious ‘fashion-conscious’ girl I am now, if not for her. Osayi Edosomwan loves me though I really don’t know why and constantly defends me and is one of the most loyal friends I have and I missed her wedding and the birth of her first child. What is wrong with me? No man has ever shown me the kind of love that IK Elaiho has showed me since I was in Js 1. Joy Akpomeza who taught me how to love giving. They are so many. Sandra Ikuli, Eyitemi, Deborah, Jessie, Imade Owie, Omosigho Ogbebor, Blessing, Eseosa, Timi Febabor, Patricia and the list goes on. I cannot remember the last day that I talked to any of these wonderful people. I am just too busy. And I was too busy to call Aisha.
I haven’t felt this much pain in a long while. I prayed I wouldn’t feel it for a long time. I thought I had seen it all but somehow I feel so small and so humble. I don’t want memories or want her in my heart. I just want her back.
Ai, I’m so sorry.
When we think of a new year, usually we think of new year resolutions and how we can achieve them this time, at least for me. I have always had new year resolutions but the thing is, I really cannot say if I achieve them or not. If I achieve them, I also cannot say if it was a result of my own actions or the universe helped set it up. I can tell you for free the areas in which I have abysmally failed. It’s easy-losing weight and becoming more spiritual. The point to note here is that these two areas are supremely under my control. I’m a foodie, how am I supposed to diet? Or eat small portions when my stomach is so big? I look at Jennifer Hudson and her new stick-thin figure and I think “na by force? Its not like she actually looks better sef. She looks like a shriveled fruit”. I conveniently forget that she set a goal and achieved it. Like how I was always planning to write especially towards the second quarter of last year and for one reason or the other, I didn’t. Olawale Famuyide begged, cajoled, threatened, etc but it all came to naught. So he got tired and started writing himself. And I had so much to share as a lot had happened to me.
But thank God for 2014. A promising year. It’s 11:12pm, Beyonce’s ‘Grown woman’ is on replay and of course, there’s no light. Generator to the rescue. Nepa has been terrible this new 2014 (those of you abroad longing to come back home have got to be kidding me). But I am determined to put my thoughts on paper. Telling myself I’ll do it on my tab hasn’t worked thus far so it’s time to try a different approach. Someone I used to know loved telling me that Insanity could be defined as doing something the same way over and over and expecting a different result. I liked that definition. Still do.
I don’t know if it’s the word ‘resolution’ that’s to blame so I’ve decided to take a different approach this new year and cure my insanity. Remove ‘resolution’ and replace with ‘goal’. Gbam! Different approach number 1. Different approach number 2 is to set realistic goals(according to the so-called life strategists that abound everywhere now). Different approach number 3 is to put it down on pen and paper or in this case, my blog. So here goes:
1. Drop to a size 12 by June which is in 6 months time. Or by Jove, maintain this my size 14 jeje. I must never reach this size 16 that it seems I am now o. Never ever. Oruko Jesu, Ise!
2. Develop a closer walk with the Big Man upstairs. Don’t worry, it’s not like we are not on speaking terms, it’s just that I’d like us to be closer. Na him be the way o #nokidding.
3. Create time for my friends and family. Osayi Edosomwan and Joy Akpomeza, I’m genuinely sorry for missing your weddings. I have no excuse and I am heartbroken. Biko, ayam still your sista o. By hook or by crook, I will be a better friend this year. I’m sorry everyone. Aisha, Onyi, Eyitemi, everyone. I love you and you are an important part of my life. But Aisha, that one no mean say you go come from South Africa emptyhanded. Same to you Chidi, I know you are on your honeymoon but bring my new year gift when you dey come back.
4. I want to laugh more and take myself less seriously this year. I don’t know what happened but 2013 became so serious. I frowned more, brooded like a monk and isolated myself for reasons I’m still trying to identify. But no more. This is the year of sunny beaches, laughter, sunshine, real friends, good wine and colourful shorts. Let the good times roll.
Oh, and by the way, I promise to ping more. I promise not to read pings after 3 days and actually reply to legit Facebook and messages, not those nonsense people that keep trying to scam me. Scam a Bini girl? How? i don’t understand. Na we start the business, just saying. Oh yes, I will tweet, whatsapp, chaton, instagram, keek, tumblr and blog. Hmmm, how I’m supposed to do all that in 24 hours with work and all I have no idea but hey, when there’s a will, there’s a way right?
For some reasons 2014 seems so exciting. It seems so promising. The buzz is contagious and it has affected me. I’ve never gotten so much buzz and thrill about a new year. May our expectations not be cut short.
Happy New Year!!!
Xoxo(sebi that’s the way oyibo people do it)