When I was a child, I did not like Peter Pan. He wanted to stay a child forever, I did not.
Gospel music, especially the Nigerian variety isn’t really my cup of tea. Why? I like music that had seen plenty effort and thought during its production, you hear a song and think the writer, singer, producer, drummer etc was not in an earthly dimension when they did this song. Plenty gospel songs do not even sound like someone put in thought to the lyrics or the arrangement of the song, they just couple it together. Continue reading →
I first heard this song at the recording of grand finale of MTN Project fame West Africa last year. It was the song that all the finalist performed as a group and I thought it was a phenomenal song. I didn’t know it wasn’t an original song by the contestants (they “owned” the song and performed it so well) and because it was the live show and not TV, I didn’t see anything else and couldn’t have known any different. Continue reading →
“I see your blog posts on facebook and twitter, you’re really serious about this your blogging. Very soon you’ll be moving to Banana Island too”
“You want me to keep reading your blog posts when you are not paying me, right? Even though you are rolling in blogging money.” Continue reading →
Let me start by apologizing for the break in this series. I’d planned to update the series at least three times weekly but I couldn’t keep up the pace due to the recent upheavals in my life. I haven’t gotten my groove back but I will not go AWOL that long again.
You can catch up on past installments HERE
“Boko Haram!” Chioma chanted when I walked into Optima
“You no wan answer me? Wetin dey worry you sef” she continued as I walked past her and went to the store room to keep my bag.
I felt soft arms grab me from behind and just before I swung my arm to dislocate the person’s jaw, I heard Ogechukwu’s soft breathing on my left ear.
“Rukayat called me, she told me what happened”
“Please don’t hug me, I don’t have the energy for crying” I managed to tell her.
“Baa wahala” she replied in that beautiful way she combines Hausa and Yoruba.
“How is Chukwumerije?” that question never failed to make us laugh, her boyfriend liked to act like an alpha Igbo ‘lord of all he surveyed’ and I liked to call him Chukwumerije after the late Igbo Senator who was once the director of propaganda in the defunct Biafra Republic.
Tears threatened to sting my eyes again, Baba was the one who had told me the stories of Biafra and their heroes. He had been sympathetic to their cause and even now he thought the conclusion of that war was a travesty and I had seen him rage about the insults to Igbos after the war when each man was offered twenty pounds in lieu of whatever they had in their bank accounts to rebuild their lives and how many of them lost their properties in Lagos, Port Harcourt and other cities just because.
“Shebi I talk am! Una be lesbians” Chioma’s acidic voice gritted my ears like sandpaper.
“Will you shut up that filthy mouth of yours” Oge’s voice vibrated with rage.
“Hian! Why will I shut up? What are two of you doing here so close to each other if you are not lesbians?”
“Her grandfather died yesterday” Oge pronounced each syllable calmly.
“When is the burial na? Hope there will be asoebi o, fine one for that matter.”
“He has been buried, he was buried yesterday”. Ogechi looked up when I answered Chioma in a tone she had never heard before.
“Buried already ke?”
“Hian! What kind of barbaric culture is that one sef” Chioma continued.
“Shut up!” Ogechi shouted
“Abegi leave that thing, Islam is a primitive religion jare”.
“Muslims are even mentally handicapped that is why they go about killing, bombing and raping, they even…” A stinging slap across her right cheek stalled her words.
Oge seemed to be transfixed by the imprint of my right palm on Chioma’s face, so I changed into my uniform and went to tidy my workstation leaving them in the store room looking like they were acting out a scene in a stage play.
“Can I help you with that load of towels, I’m on my way to the laundry room” Jennifer said when she saw me carrying the first pile of towels for the day.
I handed them to her without comment and she tried to squeeze my arm.
Other staff buzzed around me, allowing me to do just a little work but none of the heavy lifting; Chioma was kept far from me.
“Manager says you should come to his office when you’re done with this client” Jennifer said while I was working on my third customer for the day.
“You asked to see me” his office was colder than most cold rooms, he liked it that way.
He gestured to the seat across from his desk and I gingerly sat down.
“Chioma reported the incident that took place this morning. She didn’t even need to say anything, the imprint of your fingers on her face did all the talking”.
“She said you should be sacked” he continued and I burst into laughter.
“Oge and Chantelle told me what went down, they didn’t come in at the same time but their stories matched”.
“But Chantelle wasn’t…” my voice trailed off.
“You know Chantelle, she knows everything” he laughed.
“You need to take a break though, that’s why I am approving a paid one week leave for you starting from tomorrow but you can take the rest of the day off.”
“Sir I need to work, I would lose my mind if I had nothing to do”
A harsh rap on the door startled us and without waiting for him to ask her in, Chioma literally jumped into the room.
“See her Sir, she has to leave this place for us before she kills all of us o!”
“Chioma if you continue to press this issue, you might end up being suspended without pay”
“But it’s not fair Sir!” She shouted
“How will you insult another human and her religion so thoroughly? You heard that her grandfather died and you could still go ahead to vomit that kind of trash, have you no heart or molecule of sympathy?”
“Do you know that you can lose your job here if I take this matter up? If Madam Optima herself hears this kind of religiously intolerant crap, you know she would sack you on the spot.”
“Please forgive me Bilquis!” She was kneeling down and rubbing my right arm.
“What do you have to say in this matter Bilquis?” he asked.
I released the breath that I didn’t know I was holding and looked at her tear sodden face, this girl was wasting her talent at this spa. She should be plying her craft alongside Mercy Johnson and Queen Nwokoye, she would be winning many awards and rolling in dough even though I don’t understand how these guys get the money they flaunt. It definitely couldn’t be acting that gives them that level of financial liberty.
“Oga, I’ll take that leave” I muttered.
“Will you forgive her?” he persisted.
“There is nothing to forgive, she is just being herself. ” I stood up slowly, disentangling myself from her slobbering gestures and walked out of the office.
Because I couldn’t face Maami and her wahala, I boarded a bus to CMS and walked down the street that led to the NITEL building. Baba had taken me there several times when I was child, he took me there to see the Ben Enwonwu’s Sculpture of the Drummer Boy.
Baba had known the blind drummer who was immortalised in Cyprain Ekwensi’s Drummer Boy, he had even known Cyprain Ekwensi. My grandfather knew everyone! He told me how the blind drummer had played the sweetest music in the world and people often said that his parents had traded his sight for the awesome gift of music because his music could not have come by flesh alone. We’d walk down the road to Island Maternity where my father was born and Baba would recount how he nearly emptied his bowels on his trousers when my father was born.
“He was so tiny! I was so afraid of dropping him that I refused to carry him until the matron told me that he wouldn’t die if I touched him”
As he spoke, his eyes would reflect a light that had its source submerged in his aging body. My father might have turned out to be a crushing disappointment to him in the way he completely abdicated his responsibilities to his family and in the choice of his wife but he was still my grandfather’s pride and joy. He was still the one Baba loved most in this world.
The chorus of Eyan Mayweather jolted me out of my musings, I delved into my bag to get my phone to see Egbon mi on the display.
“Why would Rukayat call me with her Airtel number when she left her Airtel Phone in the house?” I muttered
“Sisi mi, Kilonshele?”
“Bilquis, please come and handle your mother. Walahi I will kill her if I have to deal with her nonsense this afternoon.” She was breathing so fast that I worried for her lungs.
“She was your mother first” I countered with a laugh so she would not break my head through the phone.
“Just come and talk to her before we bury another member of our family”
“I will…” my words dried up, she had already cut the call.
PS: I want to thank four special people without whom this post wouldn’t have been written.
Nedu who blogs at nedoux.com who gently reminded me about this series, I’d almost forgotten about it. Wordsmith extraordinaire, you always say the right things at the right time.
Fos who made me laugh so hard while I was writing today, Chukwu gozie gi.
Hero who is a living saint for being my friend and sounding board even at this time, you deserve all the iPhone 9s, Ipads and Macbook pros your heart desires when I finally hammer.
Zagira who goes above and beyond the call of duty for me always, for nearly nine years. My life would have been drab and flat without you in it.
PPS: Obianuju has finally concluded Boma and Ebube’s tender love story. I loved the gentle pace of the story and how deftly she took her characters and story where she wanted. Check out the grand finale HERE and thank me immediately.
Laptop and Charger √
Powerbank and Charger √
Phone and Charger √
Power Extension √
I left the house before 07:30 headed for Faith Motorpark in Benin City with two things on my mind. First to send documents to my Area Manager and most importantly to charge my devices. We haven’t had electricity since Saturday evening when we had power for barely an hour for the whole day and the less said about the fuel situation, the better. Yesterday I had to go a great distance to charge my phone and since my phone is command center, allowing it stay off for a whole day is unthinkable.
While waiting for the driver I wanted, I watched TV to be precise… I watched Zee World. How do you guys watch that station?! How do you ‘does’ it? I watched for like an hour and half and I felt my IQ points steadily drop. The show was a little interesting but all those closeups drove me nuts! The weak attempt at drama almost made me froth in the mouth! People who watch that station have all my respect and hailings (as we say here)
The driver who doubled as courier is the same man I had used last week to send another set of documents and he was the same person who brought the forms I was sending back. We had established a cordial relationship.
“How family” I asked him this morning after handing him the documents.
“I never marry” was his reply.
I sat up and looked at him carefully, he looked to be in his early forties and it seemed strange that a man at age was still unmarried especially in this part of Nigeria.
“Why you never marry” I have never shied from asking intrusive questions, my parents have many stories of me asking disquieting questions as a child that caused some problems for them, especially when I asked a certain old man if he was Mr Ferguson- a man in my village who had lost his senses. I remember that the man seemed unkempt to me and maybe that made me wonder if he was the one. You see, there was another man from my village who had lost his senses in Lagos, His name was Vincent and he was called Agwo and he still had semi-lucid conversations with my dad. I have written about him before Memories of Agwo.
“Nothing” he laughed.
“Abi you dey wait for Miss Perfect” I replied.
“Nobody dey perfect na.”
“You nko, you don marry?” he asked.
“I am married to Jesus”
He threw his head back, hit his left thigh twice and laughed. “Who be your husband for this earth”.
“I am not married” I replied demurely.
“Fine girl like you?” I rolled my eyes and he laughed again.
“Why you never marry na?”
“I dey wait for God’s time”
“Me too dey wait for God’s time” he quickly replied.
He was driver/footballer who had played for Bendel Insurance, Sharks of Portharcourt and some other clubs.
“Have you been to Europe?” I asked.
“Three times but e no good for my body so my people banned me from going to Europe”
He showed me his Bendel Insurance identity card which carried a passport of a man who looked decades younger than him. His year of birth on the card read 1981 and the phrase ‘football age’ struck my mind.
“You be fine when you young o” I gushed… he really was.
“This girl, you too funny” was his reply.
He went on to tell me he’s a “halfcaste” with his mother from Ozalla in Enugu state (one of my besties is from Enugu and I was in Ozalla last April for her traditional wedding and I captured it in the aptly named Chronicles of Enugu) and his father from Abonema in Rivers state.
“You be Amaechi brother!”
“No! Amaechi na Ikwerre. Na them get Port Harcourt but we be riverine people, we bin dey use boat go village but they don build bridge now”.
You sabi swim” I asked.
“Like fish sef, you no sabi?”
“I go learn once and everybody for the full swimming pool fear because I be wan drown. They come warn me say make I no come their swimming pool again.” He laughed again, looking at me with a warm smile and I felt like Chris Rock or Bill Cosby before the rape allegations.
“I like you very much” he said suddenly and I looked at his face for signs of humour and found none.
“I know we just met each other but I believe God has a reason for bringing us together”. He continued
“What church do you attend” I asked, fully expecting to hear a name like ‘House of the Fire and Thunder Pentecostal Church’ or ‘Spiritual Bread and Wine Bible Church’.
“Catholic, you which church you dey go”
“I am an Anglican”.
“They baptised me in Anglican even my parents are Anglican, my mother still dey go Anglican church till now. Both of them are the same.”
“Wetin make you change to Catholic?”
“Na when I commot for house and I bin dey find Anglican Church near my side but I no see. So I come dey go the Catholic Church wey dey that side. You know say difference no dey between them just that Anglican priest dey marry and Catholic own no dey marry.”
I didn’t agree with him, the differences in the two denominations are far more and much deeper than that but I wasn’t about to get into an argument on an almost empty stomach. So I nodded attentively and smiled.
“Back to wetin I first talk, I like you”
A man passed us and mumbled something I didn’t quite catch, he replied in Igbo that he was trying to get me to say yes and the man gave him a thumbs up sign.
“He asked me when I take marry and I dey tell am say I dey try make you say yes.”
“So what do you think?” he asked.
“I just came to Benin, I no wan rush into anything just now.” I answered.
“E no matter whether you just come, wetin matter be say you don come now and we go fit start something beautiful”.
“I don’t believe in rushing into things. If you rush in… you will rush out.” I was smiling now, I had zero interest in dating him or anything like that.
“E no matter”. He persisted.
“It matters to me, I am not a child and do not like to go back and forth. If I have a commitment to someone, I like to keep it. Beside I go look foolish if I enter and after one month I go come say I no do again. At this my age I no suppose do that kind nonsense, even you sef need to study me so you sef no go run out because you no fit cope.”
He laughed again and I decided that I liked his laughter, it was uninhibited and easy. Yet another man came to the door, looked at us and nodded approvingly before going about his business.
“You see as them dey look us, they know me say I no get woman time.” I believed him because on Friday when I failed to come get my documents on time, he shouted at me so thoroughly that I pitied his wife.
“So what do you say” he continued.
“Give me time, make we see where this journey go take us”. This is my time tested answer, they always lose interest even if it takes years. He smiled, this smile was unreadable and stood up to start his journey to Onitsha where he would give my documents to my Area Manager.
As I type this; Unleash the Dragon is blaring from my earphones, my head is bobbing in all directions and my shoulders are moving as I type, I’m pretty sure that anyone watching my fingers fly over the keyboard would think I’m not really typing because I’m dancing… Wouldn’t they be shocked to see this?
I was still in the park at 11:52 when my boss called me to ask if I had paid for the documents (I did not) and I am still here by 14:31, still charging my phone and chatting with my aunt who is also my godmother and is in Tunis, still charging my powerbank and laptop because power hasn’t been consistent. I’d rather be here waiting for electricity because there’s hope that PHCN would shake body rather than go home where there’s no telling when they’d fix the fallen wires. I’m still unleashing the dragon and will be here for a while and that is how I spent the whole day at the motor park.
Playlist for writing this post
Unbelievable by Craig David
Unconditional Love by Donna Summers.
U Make Me Wanna by Blue
Under The Sea by Sebastian from the movie The Little Mermaid.
Unfaithful by Rihanna
Unleash the Dragon by Sisqo
Used To Love You by John Legend.
Until the End of Time by Tupac.
Uptown Girl by Billy Joel
Uptown Girl by Westlife.
Uwa Chia Chia by Sir Warrior and the Oriental Brothers.
PS: How’s work going? Pretty good, pretty slow but the main lesson I have learned in these two weeks is that corruption canNOT be eradicated here, it is bone deep! The things I have seen! Chukwu nna debe anyi!
In less than a week, my friend Hero will be fully married! Hopefully I’ll be there to boogie and eat all the small chops.
Today I’m featuring one of my favourite songs in honour of my bestie- Al Jarreau’s We’re in this love together. Continue reading →