Monday, May 28, 2007


The streets are filled. Hordes of people. Excitement is ripe and ripples in the air. I am standing watching as they approach. I am not scared, maybe because I assume that I cannot be seen. The light is a dull grey and the city is Lagos. Women rush to close their eyes and bury their faces in the clothing of their male companions. The penalty of sight would be unmerciful and just to make sure that everyone knows this , whips are drawn out by men accompanying the sojourning spirits and brought down without qualms on the backs of the cowering women. Some even expect it.

Cries in Yoruba fill the air but funny enough I heart no sound. I turn and cross the gutter to the safety of our house as they pass by; these EYO people. The spirits are draped in white cloth, hold white sticks and have white boat hats atop their heads.
I enter the house. It is a typical old Lagos house; a bungalow with a long dark corridor that leads to the back.

The children are scouring about the house excited out of their minds. I brush them aside as I make my way to then back unconsciously following their direction of movement, curious to see what has got their wires touching. I pass a few but their excitement increases their speed and they gain on me and move forward. I realize that they are running towards a voice, that of a child’s and one that I know like then back of my hand. We reach the small courtyard at the back of the house. The children and I screech to a stop. The boy has pulled down a ladder leading to the roof where the food is dried and is attempting to climb. He gestures for the other kids to follow. They wish to see the masquerade procession and will do so from the roof. I rush forward. I know that if they are caught, there will be hell to pay.

My voice cuts through the chattering children. I hush them up in one instant. They freeze and look at me. The boy does not let go of the ladder. Infact, his foot has been planted on the bottom rung. He is on his way up and it will take much more than my voice to prevent him from doing so. I rail at them in Yoruba. “Get away from there. Come on, go.” I push an shove through their muffled complaints till I reach the boy. He still ahs not moved and neither have his eyes left my face. He challenges me without speaking and moving. I falter, and a small fear creeps into my mind. If I cannot handle this now, I never will be able to do so. I raise my hand and smack him hard across the face. The other kids flinch at the force of the impact. In this house there is no democracy, no bargaining and no reasoning. I am older, the adult and I will be obeyed.

I look at my hand, it is just as small as his. I am a little girl. I am barely a foot taller than he is. I am not as big as I think. I am immediately scared. The other children are looking at both of us, waiting for the explosive result. Would he let it slide and cement my position of authority or fight back and plunge us all into confusion? Whose side should they be on? The little girl who has her sleeping infant brother on her back steps away, unconsciously removing herself and her charge from the line of fire. There is silence. I find my voice.
“Get away from here. Do you all want to be in trouble?” My voice is surprisingly steady “If you are seen, you will be in trouble.”
The boy only breaths and stares at me. I am suddenly incensed. “I said GET!!!”. Even I am visibly shocked at the strength of my tone. The boy apparently is as well. He blinks and his stance is broken. His eyes lower and he steps away from the ladder. He will obey. He has obeyed. I am secure.
“I am sorry sister XXXXXX” he says to me in Yoruba. Not my name but I nod in acceptance. The other children step forward to do the same. One by one, they come to me to acknowledge my authority. I hug a few, not all, just a few. They must not think me weak.
Then I wake.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Jeje-ly and Rora-ly

Have u ever heard someone snore to the point that your bones rattled?

I came back late from Ibadan. I went to Challenge to see my aunt with whom I will be staying during my service. I will do the three weeks at camp and relocate back to her boys quarters. I am suppsoed to be teaching at some school. I hope tha language of instruction is English because as strong as my Yoruba is, it will be no match for Ibadanites and their own brand of oyo dialect...

So, I finally dragged my bag from the gate of the estate (the half drunk-half stoned security refused to let my N600.00 can take me into the estate) to our house with no one to help me. Everyone was quietly ensconsed in their houses; just me, half awake mallams and the neighbourhood bingos coming out to see who was crossing their turf.

I had called the house and told Tawa to wait in the living room for me. She came out (grudgingly) to open the gate and she helped me with my bag. We went through the back and I noticed that the basket of clothes I left for the washerman was still there waiting for me (we need to fire that guy). I was just about to open the door to ask Tawa about that when the most horrendous sound that can fill the night reached my ears.

I swear, my bladder filled up instantly. Not that we live by any bush o but the thought of the possible animals or creatures that could make such a noise froze my blood. I looked at Tawa. The idiot looked at me. "Aunty Catwalq, ki ni yen?" (what is that?)

How am I supposed to know? I left like three days ago. How am I supposed to know what Juju u people have awakened in the house? I know my mom likes all these prayer sessions and I have always warned her that one day, while she is warrior-ing for the lord, some other type of soldiers will just decide to take her on. Also, we have these wierd neighbours on our right. Their house is supposed to be empty but the lights will be coming on and off (one time the outside lights were blinking).

I looked at the back door. We were about twenty steps away. We moved. Quickly
From no where,the sound came back. Please believe me when I say that I felt my ribs shake. It was at that moment the useless cat that walks about the estate decided to jump out of the shadows and knock over the buckets in the back.
Tawa's scream nearly removed my braids from my head. In our rush to get in the house, we both could not pull the mosquito net door and that made the foolish girl even more frightened. I am sure I wouldn't have been as panicked if she had not been there. We got in the kitchen, locked the door and switched off the light. I had seen the cat but I was not sure about its predecessor. There was a brief silence
"Tawa, fun mi ni bag mi. (Give me my bag)." I began to move to the stairs.
*No answer*
"Tawa" *sharp whisper*
" to ju u le" (I have dropped it)
Even though she could not see my face, she had some sense to step back cos if I could have bitten her, I would have. I had just gotten away with reckless behaviour and I was not about to test my ancestors by opening the door and going outside
"E ma binu..." (please don't be angry) She started to beg.
"Ti n ba ji lola, ti anything ba wa missing...wa ri nkan ti ma se fun e(if I wake up tomorrow and anything is missing)" I saw her outline dip in an apologetic curtsy. Stupid girl. She is for ever doing things like that: locking people in rooms, keys in the boot, leaving purchases in whatever shop she last entered in the market etc
I hissed and began to make my way on the dark. I did not even carry my right leg when I heard the sound again.
Tawa switched gears to repeating "blood of Jesus". I thought maybe something had got in the house. Probably no one could hear because they were in their rooms with the AC on. As I passed the door, I took the broom with the wooden handle and held it ready for some Jackie Chan style combat if necessary. Tawa clutched on to my blouse ready to use ME as her defense strategy. I guess while whatever it was was eating me, she would have fled to safety. Oponu u
The sound was now getting louder and louder and coming from the living room. We tip toed as quielty as Tawa's breathing and blood-of-Jesus-ing would allow.
Twice I had to smack her hand because she had boned my dress and opted for clutching at the small of my back. If not that I was scared, i would have slapped her something serious. I braced myself and flicked on the lights.
Lying in the middle of the floor was the biggest stomach I had seen since the prenatal ward. And it was on a man. It looked like he had swallowed whatever was trying to get out/ breathe or both and thus making all those horrid noises. For a good minute, I just stood there poised to attack- Tawa poised to bite me- looking at the specimen. I had nearly wet myself for that?
Apparently Aunty Femi was in the house and had got a new driver.
Where he sits in the car, I am not sure cos that stomach...
And he did not even wake up.
You should have seen the egg I fried for his arse in the morning

Monday, May 14, 2007


Thanks to everyone for stopping by. It has been an exhausting while trying to keep up appearances at home, dodge Chinedu outside and maintain my sanity. I feel embarassed, stupid and drained.

I have done quite a few silly things...risky, but never irresponsible. With him, I don't know...I was like, "Whatever, I am down." Initially when I posted the blog, I felt a huge weight lift off my shoulder and almost imediately another one landed as I began to read the responses and comments. I had hoped for some empathy; had expected it even but not the hostility and damnation against him. I read my blog many times and thought of how to really explain to you our relationship, who he was to me, to the world and how I was going to resolve this. To do that I had to face him and face him... on my own terms.

We met in Bola's house because my house was a no go area and I did not want to go to his where he would be in the most control. Bola was riled and waiting to go. Right now, our friends have begun to suspect that something happened between us because when she saw him in public, she let him have it and after dropping my name and insults on his head in the same sentence, a picture has begun to be painted and so I needed to nip things in the bud before they escalated. I had to beg Bola to go out quietly and leave the house for us. I am not violent and so I knew I was not going to attack least not without back up.

Bola still waited to see him before she left. I was watching through the window when he arrived and from her hand gestures and the way he was looking at her, she was not speaking English or politely either...waste of time because he does not speak Yoruba. I watched him walk to the front door of the flat; slowly, hesitantly and heavily. He had lost weight...alot of it. I tried not to feel sorry for him but it was hard. I realised in that moment that even if he had not fled like that, he would not have been able to keep us functioning. He has never been able to deal with stress. Ever since I have known him, he deals with his issues by brushing them aside or leaving them for someone else to deal with. This time, it was me.

He knocked. I opened the door. He nodded...did not speak...probably couldn't. I nodded...stepped back for him to come in. I moved into the sitting room and he followed me. I took a seat and motioned for him to take one on the opposite end. He moved closer o me. I looked at him. I am not even sure how I kept my face blank. I guess the past five months had numbed me...numbed us both.

He came right up to the chair and then he went down and postrated. For a full thirty seconds I just stared at him...stunned. I don't know if anyone knows but Igbo men do not postrate and definitely not to women. I savored the gesture but asked him to please get up. We had to talk.

I wanted to know if maybe he saw something in his sleep that chased him not out of the house but out of the country. I wanted to know how even if he was so scared he would think that somehow, I would have made the situation worse. Did he not know that I was the one who stood to loose the most? I had a doctor who felt that because I was young and unmarried,I did not deserve a standard of medical care befitting of a human being. I could have taken a hanger on myself or wolfed down some pills if my plan had been to checkout from this earth but I listened to you and went with you to your so called friend who had the audacity to call me weeks later to ask me out after he nearly rearranged my reproductive system. What about my parents? What if I had died? Was this the way to go? In disgrace? How didn't he know that I would have been hurt? How did he not know that if he left me on my own like that, I would have been devastated? Did I have to walk around with a billboard before he knew how much I really cared for him? Did he not know that I overplayed with my reputation to fit into his world?

I was hurt because for once I had to let it show how much I needed much I needed him. I was hurt because he did not know that.
I was so exhausted, I just started crying. I cried even while he talked. i understood everything he said because I knew him somewhat.
I knew him because I loved him

Saturday, May 05, 2007

U know when I found out, I was not even scared. Funny enough, the day I found out, I had seen it in a dream. When I woke up, my head was so clear that I almost thought I was still asleep. I immediately went to the chemist and bought test kits. The guy at the check out counter was looking at me funny, I gave him my coldest u-really-don't-wan't-to be-messing-with-this-chick-right-now one in response and he sharply packaged my purchase for me.

I took the test twice and even after staring at the matching two lines for over twenty minutes, I still was not panicked. I knew I was not going to keep it and I knew that my family must never find out. Already my mother had started me on Malaria drugs when I started acting funny and somehow, even though I had been very weak nauseated, I had managed to keep wolfing down meals and stay awake to let both of us believe that the medicine was working. I just sat there on the toilet holding the tests trying to figure out how I could have been so stupid. i knew when and with whom. So, i packed up everything, put it in my purse and without a care for whether or not I would be seen, I walked out of the house, crossed our small street and knocked on Chinedu's gate.

Funny enough he was home and I remember his smile of welcome fading when he realised that I was not my usual self. I actually showed him the test in the kitchen. His parents as usual were out of the country and his siblings were wherever they were. I did not care. The only sound in the kitchen as he looked at the test was the air conditioning unit outside.

Fortunately for him, he did not dare to deny it. He asked me if I was okay. I said fine. He asked me what I wanted to do. I said I needed to get rid of it. I even had the money. He looked taken aback and I wondered if he had expected me to come there crying hysterically and unfocused. I am not in any way loose and immoral but I also know what I can and cannot do and if I was going to raise a child unmarried, it will not be while still under my father's roof.

We went to his friend who had a clinic in Akoka. The meeting was short and I sat there and bore the knowing/judging/condescending questions the guy through my way as we scheduled the appointment. It would be in a week when he could "squeeze" me in and not have his staff involved with my "issue". He took me home.

The plan was that because I would be incapable of movement for at least 24 hours afterwards, he would drive me to and from the clinic. I would stay with my friend Bola for the weekend while I recuperated. I had to let Bola know that I was going to be coming from the hospital but even though she immediately started harping on me, I did not tell her who was responsible. She kept asking if I had got back with IB or with some guy from my job. I snapped at her to leave me alone. She fell silent but not until she said something to the effect "sorry o, mi o kuku ran e nise" (I am not the one responsible).

I don't know what made me go to his house two days before. Maybe deep down, I just needed some more convincing that everything would be alright. I got there and the Mai-guard told me that Chinedu had travelled. I was like "ehn?!!! to where?" He did not know and was quite sorry that he didn't because of the way I asked him.

I went home and bombarded his phone with calls. At first it was going to voicemail then the phone was switched off. I called our friends if anyone knew where he had went. Friday came, the plan was that he would pick me up at noon cos I was supposed to make the appointment for three. No Chinedu. I tried to keep a calm demeanor as I ushered my mum into the car and out and Sayo with her. I took a taxi all by myself, asking myself how I could have been stupid enough not to see it coming.

When it was over and I came to, I thought I was going to die. I could not stay at the hospital. I had called Bola who thankfully came to take me home. She had borrowed the car of one her many toasters. The doctor gave me that look as if to say: How did a girl like you think a guy like Chinedu would be there for you like this? I felt he must have lumped me with every female he had ever given an appointment. Like we were all useless. His tone indicated it and so did the looks of the two nurses that were there.

I went home, threw up like three times and just lay there groggy. Twenty four hours later, I was still bleeding. Bola started to panic. I tried to calm her down before she placed a call to my mum. I called the doctor, he did not take my calls till the next morning. Gave me some bullshit about how he his phone had been acting up. He comes to the house, checks me out very roughly and tells me that I will be fine in a day or two. Day or two? I am supposed to be back home in two hours. Had to call my mum and tell one unbelievable lie about some runs Bola's mum wanted us to help her do with her fabric business and that we would get paid. Luckily, I still had on me the money I had intended to use. She was not happy but she was quiet.

I cannot tell you what I went through all alone. Bola had to leave me periodically and I just lay there wondering if I was going to bleed out. Was this how my entire existence was going to end because I had decided to catch some fun carelessly. the guy I was sneaking around for had disappeared and there I had thought I meant more to him than a quick shag. I even called his brother and sister just to tell you how panicked I was. The brother lived in port harcourt and the sister in Lekki...

then he shows up nearly five months later and wants to talk. I am not even sure if my thoughts are in English at this point....