Story-time 1

On my way to work, there’s a school with an interesting caption on its wall which I’ll paraphrase here.

The average bee lives for 40 days, during those 40 days it visits 1000 flowers and it produces a teaspoon of honey. To us, it is simply a teaspoon of honey but to the bee, that is its entire life’s work.

When I passed that school this morning, I was sweating. I stopped and grinned at the caption as a bead of sweat teased my right eyebrow. You see, sweat was once a big deal for me.

I can’t remember sweating as a child, I’d always had a low tolerance for cold (which is the reason I didn’t leave this country when it was a lot easier, but that’s another story) and when others were hot and sweaty, I was a blooming flower.

In early 2014, I joined a fitness group on BBM hosted by Nelly Agbobu. I was the youngest and ‘poorest’ person on that group filled with uber successful women who were at war with fat. The rules of the group were simple, post three pictures per week showing you having a healthy meal or working out. That rule was strictly followed, Nelly was ruthless at removing people as she didn’t want slackers.

The women on the group were guerrillas in the battle against fat, the workout routines they did were insane and in this land of the fierce, there was a queen whose name was Jane. Her workouts were stressful to even read on the chat and she was a keto warrior long before it became popular in Nigeria. The other members pulled crazy workout stunts as well, and it gave me ‘ginger’ as I pushed myself even harder so I wouldn’t fall my own hand by myself.

But there was a problem. After the intensive workouts my body would stay dry. Actually, to say it was dry was an understatement, my skin got the kind of ashy hue you’d see during harmattan. It looked like I rubbed fine ashes on my skin, the grey tint glowed in the pictures and I was very disturbed.

I mentioned it on the group from time to time and they encouraged me to keep working out and ignore the sweat. I couldn’t. After all, didn’t they say ‘sweat is the results when fat starts crying’? Why wasn’t my own fat crying like its mates. I had lost kilograms, had gotten fitter but I still wasn’t sweating.

One day, I was skipping and a drop of water rolled into my eye. I didn’t even realise what was happening until I wiped off the third or fourth drop from my eyelid. This was sweat? I was sweating? Yes!

I’m not sure I’d have been more excited if I’d gotten a windfall of 50k back then. I remember the excitement on the group when I shared the first pictures with rivulets of sweat instead of my usual grey tint. I left the group shortly after, I’d achieved my goals of joining and I could even sweat, what more was I looking for? I stopped sending pictures and exactly one week later, I was kicked off.

So, why was I sweating this morning? I was walking with my headphones ‘plugged in’ while several women kept passing me. I decided to increase my pace to meet up with them and I soon passed them except one who was on a power walk. As she pranced, I watched her and wondered why she was still disturbing herself when she already had the perfect body.

There’s a line from Body by Russ and Tion Wayne that flitted across my mind when I first saw her.
“Have you seen the state of her body? Mad!”

What would you do if you had that body? the quietest voice in my head asked.
There were several answers that came to me, one was ‘I no go wear cloth again.’ I had to stop and laugh. I wasn’t too far from the famous “left”, they’d bundle me there if I went about with no clothes because my body was… Mad!

Last week, one of our interns came to me and said, ‘Pharm Ada, if my hair was as long as yours, I’d never plait it again. I will just be leaving it hanging down my back every day and doing shakara everywhere.”

I laughed and laughed and told her I’d be praying for her hair to get there so she can see how stressful armpit length hair is to leave hanging down one’s back and how terribly hot it is to navigate Lagos heat with that hair.

She no gree hear, so I told her a story about the hair and my friend whose purpose in life is to keep my head from getting too big. It made her laugh and she felt vindicated in her quest to carry her hair down everywhere.

I’d have shared the story but this is enough for today. Perhaps, tomorrow I’ll share it.

Or not.

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