How to Capture Ojuju Calabar

One day, you enter your house and drop your bag on the kitchen counter as your hands find the light switch on the wall. As the light comes on, you notice your things are everywhere. Slowly, you walk towards the sitting room. There are things on the floor, the chairs, ironing table. Piles and piles of them. “Who did this?”, you ask yourself as you trip over something. It’s a book. Then you walk into your room. Everything’s just as you left it. Except…Where’s the earring you wore at Seun’s birthday? You opened your wardrobe to find your blue sequinned dress has had a quick dialogue with invisible legs. Its empty spot on the wardrobe hanger tells you. You know it’s not among the pile you found outside your bedroom; you would have noticed. The Jero Plays. You had it by the bed. Now that spot is empty too.

You should call your siblings perhaps they came home in your absence. Your phone. Oh no! That too? Arghh!!! Now you’re angry. You go back to the front door and begin sorting everything. The clothes on the floor go in the laundry basket. The ones on the chairs go into the wardrobe. You pick up the shoes; one foot here, another there, you arrange them on the rack. The books are finally back on the shelf, now you can stop tripping over them. Then it came. BAM!!! You know who Ojuju Calabar is.

You remember when you came home yesterday and dashed into the visitor’s room because you were really pressed, you took off the sequinned dress and left it there. Then you entered your room and sat staring out the window at the moon? You left the earrings there too. And after your evening shower, you were reading a book at the ironing table? The Jero Plays. And the phone? If only you hadn’t dropped your bag on the kitchen counter when you came in moments ago.

 

An Evening of Many Days…

It’s Christmas eve as Ebun walked home from the hospital where she works as an intern pharmacist. Normally, hospitals are her least favourite. The irony, here she is, a hospital Pharmacist. Over time, she came to realize that it’s better being a worker in a hospital than a patient. Besides if everyone hated hospitals and stayed away, who will take care of sick people?

Her friend Biose always wondered why a cheerful lady like Ebun would choose such a depressing profession. At least, that’s what Biose calls it. But Biose would never understand that despite the hundreds of sick people that throng to the private hospital where Ebun works, She feels fulfilled when one person walks out hale and hearty, ready to take the world again.

That night, just before Ebun left the Gynaecology clinic Pharmacy where she has been posted for the past three weeks, the Pharmacist on duty asked her to attend to her last patient for the day before another intern took over on the next shift. The patient seemed pregnant. However on checking her case note, Ebun realized the patient wasn’t. With a Fibroid growth in a dangerous position and a HIV positive status, doctors seem afraid to operate on her. However, no one would summon enough courage to tell the patient.

“Help me”, the patient’s cries of pain and frustration echoed in Ebun’s mind as she took the few remaining steps towards home. “Pharmacist, e gba mi. I don’t miss clinic nor my drugs. Yet whenever I come here, the doctors say my PCV count is too low and they can’t operate on me. And when I go for tests, the other doctors say my PCV count is normal. Who exactly is deceiving me?”, she added just before Ebun handed her some prescribed drugs.

Ebun remembered how after the patient left again for HIV clinic to see if someone would consider her plight, the Pharmacist on duty had casually mentioned, talking to no one in particular, that no surgeon would take on the lady’s case because they think she has little chance of making it out of the operating room alive.

Ebun knocked on the door to her brother’s flat just then as her sister-in-law opened the door to let her in. The sound from the TV in the sitting room welcomed her home as the door shut firmly behind her. Ibadan is a cold city this time of the year.

Of Maturity, Feeling Entitled and Commonsense…

So far, I have realized it’s easier for one to say “I’m mature” than for them to show maturity. And About commonsense, please don’t let anyone tell you commonsense is common. It’s a lie.

Let me start with the ladies. My dear on-fleek-on-fleek sisters. It’s Christmas, hope on fleek is not un fleek? But I have one very simple question to ask. I hear you all are “claiming” feminist these days. What’s feminism please? And please don’t come here and say that being a “manly” woman is feminism and being submissive is not. See ehn, you don’t need to shout what you are. Life is not a competition between men and women. We are here to complete one another. You are a woman. Be. Take care of you. And take care of him. And when he wants to take care of you, please don’t pull the feminist card. Let him. Let him be the man. And enjoy every minute of it. And if he doesn’t take care of you without you asking, then…

Anyways, back to Feminism, it is not about standing against men nor is it about being untrue to you just to please a man. Feminism is about you as a woman having the say in your own life. Argue in the comment section please.

However that a man should take care of you shouldn’t make you a liability to him nor should it make you a well-dressed beggar. Das how one girl stylishly told Fisayo to take her to Coldstone Creamery. Fisayo eagerly agreed. Shebi it’s to take her and she’ll pay for her buy. Only for Sister to say “ah ahn, you can’t buy ordinary Coldstone for me?” Sister if it’s “ordinary coldstone”, why can’t you buy for yourself with your own money? We ladies need to learn to appreciate little gestures and stop with the sense of entitlement.

My dear brothers, why is it that when we tell you “I like you”, then you begin to form Trey Songz. Brotherly, I like you is not equal to I want to have sex with you. Neither is it equal to I will do anything you ask just so I can be bae. Maybe for some ladies it is. But for me, it only means I like your attitude or personality. Nothing more. Okay, maybe more sometimes. One time I told a guy I liked him (i really did like more than his personality) and he decided to use that as a reason to start misbehaving. So I cannot like you and tell you without you using it as an opportunity to act like an asshole? Brother, where art thy maturity?

I know Adekunle Gold’s Orente song is blowing minds right now. Adekunle win for that song sha. E cash out wella. But you guys are missing the point of that song. The point is Orente will not complain when you have commonsense. And Commonsense in this case means knowing the right to do at a particular time without being prompted. Look at it this way, Adekunle did not have money but he had the sense to make bae happy, to think of her needs without her asking. He paid attention and cared. How will she complain? However, he also knows he has to hustle hard to be great so that bae will keep staying. Why else do you think he sang #Pick Up? But you, you are forming hard guy because you believe caring or loving is a sign of weakness. Be there o. The seizethebae gang are coming. They have plenty love and care to give on a platter.

All I’m saying is that let commonsense be your guiding force. Ladies, When you receive a gift, say “thank you”. Also #BoyfriendNotATM. Take care of you and your man. Earn your keep, no matter how small. It will earn you more respect.

Guys, man up. Take care of you and your ladies. Also, loving or caring are not weakness signs either. If anyone takes advantage of you because you are caring or loving, then they are the problem.

Have a happy Christmas people. Remember, let commonsense be your guiding force.

Monday Gone Wrong or Just a Book of Subs

I woke up this morning all shades of blue, never mind that that’s my favourite colour and it’s what I’m wearing at the moment. Music is not helping either as Fisayo has been on the Monday morning flow with his playlist. So maybe I simply need to rant. So here I am, trying to rant.

My Keni and Basi told me I give off different vibes to different people and as such it’s easy to misunderstand the kind of person I am. So this is about clearing doubts, in case you have some. Soyinka once wrote that a Tiger does not proclaim its tigritude. It pounces. Sir, I disagree. In today’s confused world, sometimes a tiger has to announce (shout sef, in case the jungle no wan hear) its tigritude.

So here goes.

I am a home person. I too like house. So night clubs, house parties, night parties are not my thing. You will not find me there. Except the house party is not the 18+ kind and the invitation is from someone I trust explicitly. For those that think being homey is equal to Cook. Big lie. I cook for only two reasons. One, I like food and that includes knowing what goes into my food. You will rarely find me eating junk (Pizza is the exception sha) Two, there’s a joy that comes with keeping bellies full. I like that feeling. But this second reason is on rare occasions. So if you ever come visiting and I offer you food (something that is not noodles), you are special.

That said, I know we all have our troubles and demons and fears. Some of us are quite adept at keeping them under wraps and when they hit, we crawl up somewhere to sort them out before we re-emerge again. and that’s fine. Some look to other people to help them figure things out and keep them on the straight, and that’s fine too.

However there’s a problem when people think being your friend is a favour or that friendship should not be mutually benefiting. Some will ‘flash’, and while you’re thinking what could be wrong, and you call back,  they go “Mo ni kin ki e ni” (I just thought to say hello). A flash passes that message how precisely? One thing I’ve learnt, if someone really needs something, they will call.

To everyone out there pulling Machiavelli stunts, una sef follow. If you are the kind that notes how many people buzzed you daily, you’re part of the problem. Then there are the ones that change DP and tell their friends, “You’ll see now, so and so person/people will be the first to ping to ask what’s wrong. Just watch.” Just because people care doesn’t mean they want extra something from you. For some of us, it’s just being nice. You know how they say “be nice to people, you never know who is contemplating suicide”? Ehn oh, we are simply trying to save you from killing yourself. But if for that reason you’re getting the I’m-Obama vibe, please don’t let us stop your greatness. *In Sound Sultan’s voice* Na only you go teach yourself.

Then there are those who keep their mouths shut about what’s going on with them but when it comes to you, they want to hear everything. The moment you hold back certain information, they go begin vex. Some will even say you have Igberaga (pride). You no talk but you want make I talk. How na? Where that one take dey happen? In this world, you get as much as you give. And sometimes, you don’t get anything. Sometimes there are no returns on investment.

I’ve been told I’m the most boring person alive even though I’m nice. Always in my comfort zone, very private yet quick to make friends. Those close to me know I can gist from now till tomorrow. But the moment you start feeling important, all the best fam. Iss nor fight. Who I am is dependent on you. If you’re boring, I will be boring. Ati bee bee lo. But note, I will not go out of my comfort zone to please you if I know you will not do same for me.

Shout out to everyone who has been keeping it real from go. The ones that when they buzz or you meet, even though you haven’t talked in a while, you talk like the last time was just yesterday. I’m happy just knowing you all are doing great wherever you are and that’s more than enough. Keeping daily tabs on people is not my thing. So that the once in a while I check on you, it’s really sincere.

Anyway, it’s the season of change. Change for the better. Don’t be left behind.

PS> Part two is coming. Time to correct certain attitudes and social behaviour.

Oh finally, the Lunch lady is here!

#StoryTime: A Hand From Within

It was a hectic day at work for Ade who is a Senior Manager at an Integrated Marketing Company in Lagos. Despite the stress, she made it back home early enough to catch her daughter, Princess, finishing up her assignment while her older cousin, Seun, monitored her. It was 7:30pm.

Seun being an ultimate poster child, always did what needs to be done without being told. In fact, Ade knew that if not for the presence of the young teenager in her home, she would have had to pick up her daughter every day at her mother’s because she was averse to the idea of housemaids. And since her schedule is most of the time unpredictable, that meant not seeing her child days at a time and she wouldn’t have any of that.

“Sade is good with Princess”, she thought as her eyes watch both girls; one older, the other with worship in her eyes- the way a little girl can only look at an elder sister. “As if she were my own daughter”, Ade mused.

Like a cat catching the scent of Fried Fish, Ade perceived the scent of Fish Pepper-soup wafting out of the kitchen which Seun went into just then. She blessed the day she ignored her friend’s advice to get a maid to help in taking care of her child. Instead of having stranger in her home, she’d rather have family.
“Family is worse, it won’t be easy getting them out of your home when shit happens”, Yinka told her when she mentioned it last year at one of their weekly catch-up.
“Family is everything”, Ade replied Yinka.

Just then, she heard her husband’s car enter into the premises. Soon enough, he came into the house with his keys dangling in one hand and his bag in the other. “Hi darling,” he beamed in that way he does with her. She blushed and moved right into his arms to give him a quick kiss on the lips. He didn’t linger as he hurried into their private bathroom to wash off the grit, and of course, road rage, which has become the new deal in Lagos. His mother always said there’s nothing a cold shower and good sleep can’t fix. She was right.

That night after dinner, they all sat as one big happy family watching TV. Usually, at that time, Princess would be asleep, even more so if the next day was a week day. However that night, she was up- bright-eyed too. Not like most kids are when they are trying not to sleep so that their eyes were half-slit. Ade soon asked Princess to go to sleep but Eze urged her to let her be since the next day was a Saturday.
Just then, Ade caught a scene in the movie which was showing on TV which she hadn’t really been focused on as she lay half-awake half-asleep with her head snuggly resting on Eze’s lap. Seeing Joy Bryant and Michael Ealy in explicit sexual position in About Last Night, she promptly whispered to Eze to change the channel.

Princess spoke up just then, “Mummy, so white people do that thing too.”
“What thing, darling?”, Ade asked absentmindedly as she concentrated on the news station, Channels, trying to catch the details since Eze just tuned in.
“That thing that Aunty Seun does to me in Church, every time she takes me to pee, or when we are alone at home.”, Princess replied.
This time, it was Eze who asked in that firm husky voice of his.

“What thing, Princess?”
Princess stood up, walked to the table at the centre of the room, picked up the TV remote and changed the channel.
“That thing”, she replied innocently pointing at the screen.

Ade and Eze both looked at the screen, to the scene unfolding before them, where Michael had his head between Joy’s leg while she writhe in ecstatic delight; slowly dawning on them that their daughter had all the while been left in the hands of a teenager who has been touching her in all the wrong ways.

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If na you, wetin you go do? *Let the comment section overflow*

 

Sheri Elepo

Sheri, Oya je a lo o. Let’s go, it’s time”. When Madam Toke said these words that faithful morning, little did Sheri know how drastically her life would change before the end of the day. It was three in the morning and as usual, Madam Toke and Sheri were on their way to one of the numerous oil depots in Apapa to buy fuel at a cheaper rate (almost half the rates Filling stations sell) which they’d resell on the black market at higher rates. It is good business as already Madam Toke is the number one go-to person for illicit fuel business in the area.
As the two join a commercial bus via the Ijesha route from their Ojuelegba home heading towards Tincan, one could see the silhouette of other passengers already on the bus in the wake of the early morning darkness. Life in Lagos, especially Apapa could drive one to madness you see. From the gridlock of traffic, to people angry at the trekking exercises they were forced to embark upon as the gridlock had blocked the inflow of vehicles that would commute them from their homes to their various work places, to frustrated drivers resigned to leave their cars in the gridlock as it didn’t appear the vehicles would be leaving the spot within the next few days, it is no wonder Apapa had come to be known as the Craze centre of Lagos.
This was one of those mornings too. Madam Toke, with Sheri in tow, didn’t bother crossing to the other side of the road on getting to Ijesha express. What was the point anyway? They’d probably join the morning crowd in the Trek from Second Rainbow to Mile 2, which will leave them fagged out by the time they got to the loading tanks. They couldn’t afford that today. So instead, they joined a bus heading to Wharf-Coconut on their side of the road. It was one-way but who cares? Even the Government seemed to have looked the other way when it came to the happenings in and around Apapa. There were trucks everywhere; oil tankers, freight containers, etc. No thanks to the Apapa Port, two major food Mills, Tincan Port, Loading oil Tanks, all located in the area. Too much trouble, too much red tape, the Government figured. Besides, the more the woes on the road, the more money they made. So, they let Apapa thrive in its hells.
Soon the bus moved, along with other already growing emboldened drivers taking one-way, towards Tincan. Occasionally one could hear the sleep-laden voice of the conductor as he calls for passengers who may be heading that way. Getting to Warehouse, Madam Toke jolts Sheri awake as she could see other Black marketers alighting from buses ahead, some already making their way to the loading station. Sheri had fallen asleep on the bus, figuring she could catch a quick nap before they got to Kapithal Oil, where they would be loading for the day. As they alighted, Madam Toke told Sheri to go ahead while she had a quick word with Musa. Musa was one of the merchants at the station and if one wanted to get an even better deal with any kind of gasoline product, Musa was the man to meet.
It was almost 4:30am. Sheri took all the Jerry cans, mostly 25 and 50-litre kegs held together by a single rope and headed for the gates of Kapithal Oil. Briskly she walked while loosening her head-tie, using it to shield her face. It was still dark no doubt, but not wanting Nnamdi who seemed to have a tracking device on her to know she was at the depot that morning, she had to remain covered. Nnamdi always knew when she was around as somehow, even when she didn’t let him know she would be at the depot, their paths would cross. The night before, he had called her mobile to inquire if she’d be around the next day, she had said no. She needed to sort some things out in her head. Things like how to tell Madam Toke about her relationship with Nnamdi. She was Yoruba and he was an Easterner and Madam Toke being her formal guardian, had to approve of the relationship so she can pave the way for Nnamdi’s acceptance by Sheri’s parents. But then everyone knew how much hatred Madam Toke had for Easterners and no matter how kind and honest an Easterner was, Madam Toke could never like one.This was what occupied Sheri’s mind.

Soon she was at the station. She realized a lot of marketers were already on ground. “These people never sleep”, she mused. She put the kegs on the ground and used one as stool as she joined the queue. Just then, her phone rang. Phone calls were frowned at the stations. In fact it was one of the first things the buyers were asked to not do. As such, everyone usually had their phones off upon entry. She glanced at the phone and realized it was Nnamdi. She simply silenced the phone. Ending the call would arouse suspicion. Her phone rang twice more; she just ignored and allowed her thoughts travel.
By 5:30am, it was almost her turn and Madam Toke hadn’t come to join her. She wasn’t worried as this was the norm with Madam Toke; leaving her to do all the hustling and coming to join her when all the kegs had been filled and it was time to leave. She was jolted out of her reverie by the sudden rise in voices around her. The two people in front of her were arguing hotly. Someone had come from the back of the queue to get fuel and bribed the man fuelling black marketers to let him. This generated the argument. Before long, everyone was throwing in their own jabs, word blows of anything and everything they could make out of the original culprits. Usually these kinds of things ended in some home and away goals and eventually fizzled out a short while later with sighs and hisses acting as the finale. However, the opposite was the case today; everyone took the insults personally.
Just then, someone threw the first blow. Soon, blows flew in from everywhere like people donating their share to the blows so they could later say, theirs were some of the blows; well-delivered too. Sheri quickly dodged one as it aimed for her face. Before she could bring herself to step back from it all, after she realized she was at the centre of it, another blow hit her square in the face. She held her face in pain, crying at the suddenness and force of that one blow. She noticed someone behind pick her up. She struggled to free herself from this new enemy she couldn’t picture when Nnamdi spoke from behind her. She realized it was Nnamdi. Again, he had found her. He quickly nudged her up, telling her if they didn’t get out of there right then, they’d never make it out.
Later, reports would have it that Apapa was just a place sitting on the proverbial keg of gunpowder and what happened was bound to happen sooner or later. Some would say its own hell sucked it in. Others would simply associate what happened to societal neglect. Whatever it was, no one could be sure. However, one thing was certain; Apapa finally got the attention it once begged for. Its ruins would later be documented on camera by Cable News, for the world to supply their fair shares of Ooohs, Aaahs and of course, petitions from several civil society groups to the Federal Government. But by then, nothing could be done. It would make for a great topic for discussion later on in subsequent government administrations.

No one survived the explosion.

No Strings Attached

To things without beginnings but when they end, leave you in the middle of bereft and relieved…

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
So I watched two play the game
No strings attached, I heard
I saw differently

Actions speak louder, that’s a no
Listen to the words
Actions are just for the medal

A string of events
…Unattached

At every stop, another You
Calls, tutorials, movie invites,
Things extra
Thinking there’s more
Listen to the words
Actions are just for the medal…

So maybe it’s all a lie
All that is
The smiles on your face
Keeping at bay
All colours of her footprints
As they trample,
Pouring sand, on your ego

But of course it’s no biggie
Buddies yea?
Taking your pain, until you’re whole again
And I’m broken

Maybe it’s not the pain
Maybe it’s not her
Nor you.
It’s me
Wanting another to feel the pain of being
Left behind

So I sit back and watch the curtains close
Happy you’re there
Once again, the star in the loft
Happy that again,
I fixed another broken caterpillar
And set it free; a butterfly

Jele o sinmi

“Break her hands!! Break her legs!! She must not go!! Get the Ataare, some salt and a metal spoon”, Papa said. Mama hurries out of the room to get the pepper, salt and spoon. I stand with Bamitale, holding his hands tightly as we watch Papa in silence. “Hold her hands, Iya Sinmi. And legs too. The salt will bring her back. Pour everything in her mouth”, Papa says as soon as Mama comes back in. Mama is crying. I see her. I pity her. I even cry with her, occasionally wiping my eyes with the ends of my wrapper. “We should go”, Bamitale says. “But I want to watch everything”, I say to him. “Her body is going stiff”, Mama Cries, holding on tightly to me. “Help me!” I’m her 9th child. The ones before me are gone. Come back as me, they say. Of course! Papa gave 8 blows. They died after each one. His blows did not touch me, just the poor woman I call Mother. I lived. Papa shoved the spoon in my mouth, down my throat, blocking air. “It will hold her teeth apart”, he tells her, reeking of Ogogoro. Mama should have known. His hands are not steady. “Bamitale, let’s go. This house can now rest”. Mama bursts into tears, screaming “JELEOSINMI” as I walk away, hand in hand with Bamitale.

Choosing Sides

Yesterday, I woke up and I was 24. Yes, I know. I’m getting old already. I mean my first grey hairs sprouted some two to three years back. But guess what? I feel 18 again. This time, not confused. So here’s to being older…feeling younger.

Prologue…

We don’t choose these muses. They choose us. Just like this one…

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Adamu woke up in one of those sleep-induced moments when you wake up to take a piss even though you still are very much asleep. The ones that leave you walking sleepily toward the bathroom, knowing the angle to turn the doorknob and have it open, what slipper would be at the door and whose, how many steps to take before eventually stopping to remove your shorts, ready to aim at the right angle toward the Water Closet poised in the centre of the room. The WC, ready to collect you urine like the goal keeper at the lunge position just before a goal; all without opening your eyes. It was in that state that Adamu found himself on that fateful day.

As he walked towards the door that would take him from the room he shared with his siblings to the toilet, he heard voices. This time in the other room: the sitting room. And this time, just like he knew the steps that would take him to the rest room, he turned the other way, towards the sitting room. Adamu was 10. He opened the door connecting the children’s room and the sitting room, and just stood there, in that dream state: trying to sieve out the voices he heard and make sense of them.

“Tell me”, he heard. the voices were clearer then. It was Adamu’s father’s. He had a woman pinned underneath him on the settee. Adamu couldn’t make out the face.

“Tell you what?”, the woman replied in a tearful voice. A voice Adamu’s subconscious recognizes as his mother’s especially when she’s given to tears.

“So that you’d kill me?”, she continued in that tearful voice, barely above a whisper.

“You better speak up now”, Adamu’s father shouted back angrily but in a whisper too.

Something warned them just then of their. Perhaps it was the cold breeze of more air being let into the closed confines of the sitting room. Perhaps it was Adamu’s shadow cast upon them both in dark silhouette. Because just then Adamu’s mother looked up and saw Adamu standing there. Knowing he was as much asleep as he was awake, she said to him: “Can you see your father? can you see what he’s doing to me?”

Adamu’s father spoke up just then, suddenly realizing they had an audience

“Go to bed, my son. It’s not what you think.”

With that, forgetting the reason he was awake or perhaps fate had chosen him to be awake at that moment, Adamu went back to sleep.

He’d wake up the next day with nothing absolutely wrong with his world. But the afternoon of the next day would bring that world crashing down. His mother had left. No forewarning. No contact whatsoever. As if she had become thin air. And he’d from then on, be called upon as a witness. To that sleep-waking moment when he had absolutely no idea what took place even though he was standing right there.

Later on, he’d hear from different sources that his mother had started life afresh in a new place with a whole new identity and that every time she was asked, she’d always refer them to Adamu because “he was there and he saw what happened”. And whenever his father was thrown the same question, it would seem “Adamu was there, he heard everything she said: everything she admitted to”.

It would seem Adamu had been the unwitting umpire in his own fate, forever wondering if he could have done anything differently.

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And the muse left me wondering why sometimes, it is those less innocent who end up paying the price. Why are they the ones who spend their lives trying, and failing woefully, to correct the mistakes of others?

Happy new year sweethearts.