Sunday, January 25, 2009

It started out as a thought and the next thing I knew I was rolling on the floor laughing...

Cos I remembered when I still used to wear a leg brace. I went for Sunday EWS and afterwards was walking back to the car while my parents touched base with other adults at service. I noticed that some of the "main guys" were seated on a low wall by the cars conversating and that I would have to walk past them. In true fifteen year old form, I attempted to sashay past; a ridiculous idea given that I was a female teen version of Forrest Gump. I was not to be deterred. I began my move. As I approached, the conversation among the boys slowly died down as they paused to behold the spectacle that was my movement. I am guessing I would have made it too if the yeye thing had not locked at the joints and sent me flying. I just lay there while the boys jumped up and rushed over.
Long story short, don't catwalk if you have a leg brace on...

Or the time I was on the bus and wanted to flick my long weave backwards and out of my face and sent my earring flying through the window....

Or the time that I farted while laughing at a joke the School of Architecture's guest of honour said and the poor guy just went "Take it easy child"...

Or the time I was not looking and got into the wrong car in front of my dorm and scared the beejeesus out of these three guys...

Or the time I thought I would get my eyebrows waxed and ended up looking "surprised" for two weeks...

Or the time I did not know that one stupid baby had pulled my wig backwards on the bus while I was dozing and the mother was trying to find a way to push it back without waking me up and ended up knocking me upside the head when the bus jolted. I just woke up and found that people were staring at me with hands over their mouth and some hispanic woman trying to get off the bus fast. When I got out, I caught my reflection in the bus as it drove past and my wig was on backwards....

Or the day I bent down in class to pick up something and my jeans ripped....

Or the....I gotta stop, my side hurts men

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Envy and other musings on a cold January afternoon

On November 4th, a huge chunk of the citizens of the United States of America participated in a free election that put in place the first black man as the 44th president. For country that grew its economic wealth on the exploitation and oppression of others, this was an amazing feat even in itself. And today, braving the bitter Washington DC cold, this man was sworn in with a ceremony that was moving and inspirational, into his office. This man, Barrack Obama, has become the new iconic symbol of global change. He is the black man from the West. He is the future of international relations.

My feelings at this point towards this man and his people are a combination of being impressed and envy. The journey to this point and the ability to get here is what I envy. On the day of the American elections, there were no reports of violence or rigging (no reports might not mean that they did not happen). People went to the polls, cast their vote and went about their day. At the end, the results were announced and the losing party bowed out with a graceful show of sportsmanship and stepped aside so the winning team could take centerstage. The entire country, irrespective of their beliefs and voting choices unified to welcome the new president home. It was like a page out of fairy tale book on what democracy is all about.

My eyes filled with tears as I listened to the 44th president make his first speech as president but I refused to let them fall. It is quite the heartbreak to hear such inspirational words coming from someone addressing his people and come from a country like mine.

I am a Nigerian. And I am wondering when we as a people will be courageous enough to demand leaders who manage our growth towards stability and further development. I wonder when we refuse to be poor in thought, words and deed because poverty is not just about a lack of legal tender; that is simply being broke. When will the mention of my nationality not mean an invitation for people to share what negative experiences they have heard about or experiences with some other Nigerians?

I don't know.

Maybe in twenty years. If we all make the conscious decision to work towards it.

Now, I watch the Americans celebrate.

In a while, and God willing I will be a part of it, so will we.

The Nigerians, I mean....and all other nationalities who wish it.

Friday, January 16, 2009

God why?

I just need a simple explanation why it is so FRACKING cold today!!!! I nearly passed out walking from the metro and I must have lost alot of energy doing so because now, I am so sleepy.....

My mind has been made up for me, Nope, I am not living in a cold climate even if I get a nice car to cart me and my stuff around. I need not to fear that I will loose my ear lobes because somebody sometime ago insulted God and he cursed the land with ice weather.


Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The Kiss

Picture from here
"Now, we are here. This is the most important part of the film. This kiss is the most important thing about the film. This is what should tell the audience if both your characters are supposed to be together. Your love story so far has been a series of hits and misses and now finally, you are here. Look at her, she is Sajida. The one for whom your heart beats and your blood boils. The one for whom you have risked even death itself just so you can feel her forbidden touch. And you, Malicka, you as Sajida have been waiting all your life for this moment. You have fled your wedding on the promise made to you eleven years ago when you were but children. Your love is one of desperation. You know loving him will destroy you but you cannot help yourself. You are lost. You are his and only he can save you from this jump off the cliff into the unknown. Are you with me?"

We both nodded. What could we do. Draped across each other in a state of suggestive undress whilst a frantic crew orbitted around us, there was nothing Kunal and I could do but nod. Ask anyone in our line of work and they will tell you that it does not matter how many movies you do, the love scenes are the most uncomfortable. First, there is the fact that you have to pretend to feel all that emotion for someone you are not supposed to. Even if your body responds, you have to act like it doesn't while acting like it does. It never ceases to be embarassing for either one of you to suddenly become aware that the other is aroused. That has led many a leading pair down the hurried path back to their trailers where they rip the clothes off each other, only to figure out six months after the movie has been released that that was all it was: a reaction and not a connection.

Then, there is the crew. They, avoiding your gaze and you, avoiding theirs. If you are established like Kunal and I, you can demand a closed set. But if you are just starting out, you can find yourself under the assessing stares of almost fifty people trying to make sure that you don't fuck up their work. Makeup needs you to remain dry and intact all through the shot; something I never quite understood when one is placed under such severe lighting. Wardrobe needs for the costumes to come off effortlessly and in such a way as to imply that if the audience purchased the same pieces, they might find themselves in similar embraces of passion. The Cinematographer, Lighting crew and Director, all pressed to make the shot as suggestive as possible without actually having to result in unsimulated sex. There would be stills; the most excruciating part. Taken by the photographer, they would run with promos and be leaked to blogs and buzz makers so as to create the illusion that your ticket at the cinemas would buy you audience to witness the forbidden. That is when you and your co-star have to hold contorted positions for minutes at a time.

I typically zone out during these takes. I go into auto pilot. With a body like mine, I have no hang ups about nudity, even though I never do full frontal. Sex sells and I get paid to suggest that I've got the kind that all men or some women want. With 15 mil a flick, I think I am quite convincing. And so far, I have not had to compromise my principles. That is not to say that I have not slept with some of my co stars. That is a story for another day. Today, it's all about this scene. This scene where Sajida and Qais steal a night of passion beneath the beautiful darkness of an Egyptian night. This scene shared between Kunal and I. This scene that would make or break the movie.
"Remember, you can keep it close lipped. All I need is the look in both your eyes. You kiss, pull away briefly and move into a hurried embrace, " Said, the director went on, "then you, Kunal, push here slowly back against the bed of discarded clothes. Remember to place your hands, here, here and here..." he directed, pointing at my neck, stomach and thighs. Kunal nods, his curly hair falling over one eye. He looks at me and winks. I wink back and chuckle at his attempt at being cavalier. I know he is nervous. I can feel it. I know because so am I.
Said gives us the thumbs up and pulls away to his highly coveted position behind the camera, in front of the preview screen. We are going for action in a minute. I lean into Kunal,
"You ready?" I whisper, impressed that I am able to still the trembling in my voice. He nods without looking at me. He can't anyway; make up is giving his sweaty brow, one last dab.
The AD takes control of the set. Everything dies down. Everyone is in their places. The crew and the cast: Kunal and I. It is cold, the coolness sweeping past on a soft breeze from the lake nearby. I can see the reflection of the night's moon on the still surface. We are on the river bank and it is the last shoot of the night.
"Silence on the set. Places everyone." No one moves. Said could throw a tantrum and whatever he has in his hand if he feels his shot is compromised by a crew member. He is holding a styrofoam of coffee that I know would be stiff, black, bitter and smoldering hot.
Lighting crew nods
The poor boy holding the boom mike nods
There is a pause as the DOP looks at his camera.
"Mark it"
A young production assistant, grateful to be on set hurries forward and marks the shot, "Sahara Rose. Scene thirty four, take one. By the riverside."
She moves away
Kunal's lips are less than an inch from mine. I can feel his minty breath on my face, his cologne scented skin against mine. We have both been sprayed down with fake mist, simulating the pespiration that passion brings. The shot is simple, has been choreographed over and over. It would be a chaste kiss and a caressing embrace, from which my lover will ease me on my back and move between my thighs. Then we cut. A minute or two that would be edited to a three minute sequence justaposing close ups of skin, limbs and parted lips with soft suggestive music for what should be an erotic encounter. It has all been explained and defined in the contract.
I have other plans. I want this man and I am going in for the kill. I am going to give him something he did not see coming. I can feel the tenseness in his frame and know that he is politely arching his body to give me some space and avoid his pressing weight. I hear the signal and I do what I plan to do.
I rise so fast, he has no time to react. I push him off me and to a sitting position so that I can move to straddle him. I hear the collective gasp as the artfully placed piece of muslin fabric falls away from my naked bosom. Thrusting my hand in his full head of hair, I pull his head back and cover his lips, opened with the pain of my grip, with mine. He tries to pull away and I push into him, coaxing him to respond.
"Kiss me." I moan against his mouth,"Kiss me. Tonight is ours. No one can take this away. Tonight belongs to you and I. Kiss me"
I pull back and look into his eyes. Those lines were never in the script. He knows I mean them.
I can almost from the corner of my eye that Said's mouth, like most of the crew, is hanging open and his coffee is pouring slowly on the floor.
I move my hand slowly from Kunal's hair to cup his face, brushing his wet lower lip with my thumb.
"Kiss me, my love"
He does, crushing my mouth to his. I let go and he let's go and we fall into each other's arms, giving in to weeks of pent up emotion, stolen glances and suggestive conversation. I melt in the taste of his mouth and he, warm, wet, minty, fresh and suprisingly sweet, his tongue responds to mine.

It does not matter that the movie is initially banned. The censorship board feels that the kiss is a bit too much. The press takes the issue, lights a fire to it and runs it day in, day out. Advocates for the freedom of speech speak out in opposition to the ban. Conservatives cry out that we, Kunal and I have demoralised the future generation by exposing them to improper behaviour. A few bribes are paid under the table. The movie is giving an R rating. It is sold out in every theatres. Pirated copies are found on the internet. Youtube, blogs and chatrooms have us as their topic of discussions resulting in heated debates where insults and name calling become the fashion.

Said enters the film in an international film festival. We win an award. Kunal is nominated for his performance as the Best Male Performance. I am nominated for Best Performance in An Epic or Drama.

We arrive at the award ceremony at the same time. There is an amazing opening dance performance by a seasoned classical dance artist. The category wins pass by. Kunal's category comes up. He wins.

In his acceptance speech, he thanks God, the director, producers, cast and crew. He thanks me his co star for a professional working environment. Then he thanks his wife for her undying support

Friday, January 02, 2009

I had planned not to start the year with a rant but any case...

I was jeje-ly and rora-ly enjoying my New Year and trying to connect with my roots by staying glued to the poor audio-visual bumbling attempt that was NTA. On air was the traditional recap of events marking the entry to the new year (mostly in various churches as if non-Christians did not enter the new year) with a special focus on the annual visit of the nation's first lady to the newborn babies of the year.

After carrying the poor infants who were oddly enough clothed in winter gear, the first lady took some time to address the camera. When asked what her message was to Nigerian women, our lady responded (and I am going to try and remember the exact quote):
"Err, to the Nigerian women, in the new year, they should take care of their homes, obey their husbands......."

I must confess, at the last part of the statement, I was so stunned, I did not hear the rest. I was just too amazed that giving the opportunity to speak to 60% of the country's population,from diverse ethnicities, relgious backgrounds and personal pursuits, our first lady whom I had been told had a formal education could only see fit to advise all women to take care of their homes and obey their husbands.
She was saying...

To the single mothers: obey their husbands
To the lawyers, doctors, engineers, fashion designers, writers, editors, entrepreneurs, prosmiscous women, prudes,nuns, athletes, mothers, students, daughters,wives, sisters,nieces,aunts, grandmothers, architects, actresses, film producers, directors, chefs, drivers, inventors,readers, manufacturers, philanthropists, nurses,medical practitioners, scientists, researchers, shallow women, traders, kidnappers, child traffickers, preachers, religious zelots, religious leaders, bloggers, illiterates, singers, artistes, investors,sex workers, mistresses, bankers, 419ners, travellers, planners, lazy females, hardworking females, employed, unemployed, whatever-you-could-possibly be: obey your husband?!!!!

Apparently, the Nigerian woman is only a homemaker. She cleans the house, tends to her children, obeys her husband and that is the extent of her existence. It is no wonder why the Nigerian female consciousness is the same as it was in pre-historic times because even the woman--our first lady--who is the ultimate example of our identity cannot see herself outside of the definitions of a marital status. It is all she probably ever aspired to be and cannot even fathom a word of encouragement or inspiration for the woman coming after her that does not mirror her own private achievements.
(sorry i could not find a picture with a dutiful nigerian wife but you get the picture)

I am sorry and not the least bit surprised to say that I have never been inspired whether in deed or words by any first lady my state or country has ever had. When I was little, I looked to Margaret Thatcher, Indira Ghandi, Benazir Bhutto, Winnie Mandela and until recently, Hilary Clinton. Right now, I am inspired by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, president of Liberia because she represents a future that seems like it might never happen in my country: A woman who leads the people. I don't even know if she is married and frankly, I don't care. All I know is that she has taken some mantle of leadership and is doing what she can to repair a hurt nation.

These women were (and still are) doing things, making waves and changing lives as they led their people. I am not going to analyze whether or not they executed good governance, I am talking about the impression their attainment of their positions had on me.

In Nigeria, first ladies belong to a sorority whose accomplishments include supporting philandeering husbands who abuse power, setting up organisations that take more money from a society (CASE IN POINT: BETTER LIFE FOR ROYAL WOMEN and whatever other scheme there is out there) that needs it and becoming fashion icons. Titi Abubakar, was not first lady but I think she did in her own way make an attempt to do somethings with her position but even that was marred by the constant power struggle between her and her husband's second wife, Jennifer...we are not going to start on the mistresses...(to the Nigerian woman, they don't count abi?)

This is always the case. Nigerian women and their power struggles for positions defined by men. The men don't even have to degrade us. We already degrade ourselves and then wonder why they don't see us as anything other than what we defined ourselves to be.

So then, you might ask: What, dear Catwalq, after your long diatribe would be your message to the Nigerian woman?
To which I would answer( with the knowledge that the next time I go home to Nigeria, there might be a squad waiting for me at the airport as is the norm these days for Nigerian bloggers who criticise anyone in government/power):
Someone once said that there are only two very important days in your whole life. The day you are born and the day you figure out why you are born. To the Nigerian woman I say, figure out why you were born and make sure that you are the best of it or you can simply OBEY YOUR HUSBAND and call it day!!!!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

A new year has come....