Thou Shall Not Covet

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longthroat.com

Epistle begins.

My relationship with social media is a precarious one. Some days I love it and other times, I curse the person whose idea it was. More than once, I have considered shutting down all my social media accounts and obliterating myself from the internet. Well, I typically consider it for all of a nanosecond and then promptly cast down the evil thought. The only thing that stops me is my thirst for information and current affairs (also known as amebo); how else will the latest gist reach me?!

One of my principal gripes with social media is that is a well oiled envy breeding machine. Sometimes, it’s obvious. We see something someone has and instantly start plotting our ‘get it too’ strategy. Other times, it’s more subtle. All seems well until we wake up one day to find we are no longer satisfied with our lives. Other people are ‘doing big things’ while we stay drowning in the well of relative insignificance.

It is an accepted fact that people tend to portray the best of their lives on social media platforms. You post a selfie when you KNOW you’re looking hot but those pictures where you’re looking jacked up rarely surface. When you are in a relationship, we know about it because your poetic status and photo updates make the rest of us want to curl up in a ball and weep for love, but it is your silence that tells us when the relationship has ended. When you get a new job, we see the update on LinkedIn but we only know you were out of work when you post a new job update and we realise there’s a six month gap between when the last one ended and the new one began. We see the portraits of your feet on Instagram when you’re wearing Louboutin and Zanotti but the portraits of your Atmosphere and Store Twenty-One purchases never get their day in the spotlight.

I’m no wet blanket. I’m happy when good things happen to people and get ridiculously excited when I see people living out their dreams and succeeding too! I also have no issues with people owning luxury items. If you can afford them, knock yourself out! I mean, I’d quite like to play landlady to a Chanel Boy bag myself (hi Yoruba Boy!). This is just me pointing out to the people who haven’t figured it out yet or those who have perhaps, forgotten, that what you see of people’s lives via social media is;

  1. what they want you to see
  2. a miniscule glimpse of their bigger picture
  3. false advertising
  4. all of the above

Let’s consider the possibility that life IS going really well for them (they are happy, rich, successful, in love, famous and everything else you dream of and haven’t quite managed to become) because let’s face it, fortune shines blindingly over some of us mortals. Alongside that, let’s also consider the reality that success is more often than not, the result of the shedding of sweat and blood. Whose blood (their ancestors perhaps), is irrelevant. When we see the evidence of other’s success advertised via social media, it’s worth reminding ourselves that;

  1. It came at a price
  2. Your success has a price too
  3. No payment, no collection
  4. all of the above

 

I know we’re considering many possibilities here but let’s also consider the possibility that most of your dreams do not come true in your lifetime. This is a likely possibility…and no, I’m not cursing you! What happens then? Does your life become a den of depression, regret, envy and lust?

The ability to find contentment regardless of the hand fate deals us is necessary, mandatory, if you will. If we live life happy when things are going well and miserable otherwise, we will soon turn into self-induced manic depressives.

The moral of this epistle is simply this; be content with what you have and where you are. By all means, aspire for better but on your way there, make the most of the here and now. You cannot stop people from advertising the best of their lives on social media (and I advocate celebrating others’ successes) but you can control your long throat so please, do yourself a favour and rein it in before it stretches to the point of no return.

Epistle over.

Thanks and God bless.

xXx

Waila

 

SOME OF US ARE REALLY JUST HOT!

Many years ago I took a trip to Abuja to visit my mother. It was my first visit back home in circa 8 years, my first trip back since I left. Very little had changed but the things that had, had changed dramatically. For example, before I left, mobile phones were the preserve of elite business men and looked something like this.

 

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I arrived to find that just about everyone had mobile phones and you could buy one for as little as N5000. It really was revolutionary that my mother could call her ‘hair person’ in Wuse market to pre-order the hair extensions I wanted to cart back at the end of my trip. Let’s not try and understand why my mother, who has no hair, has a hair person.

At the time, she lived in a block of flats and unknown to me, everyone in the building was eagerly awaiting my arrival; rodents and household pets included. Such was her excitement. She could finally prove to people that she REALLY did have children. I spent more time than I cared to visiting neighbours and parading myself like a show horse so one morning, when she informed me that she had organised a play date for me with the daughter of a neighbour I was yet to meet, I was not impressed. It was one thing to pop in for a quick hello but a play date?! On what planet do parents schedule play dates for their twenty something year old ‘children’?! The family were expecting me though and it would have been rude not to turn up so off I went to meet my new play mate.

As we walked into their living the room, I spotted a girl who I figured was my play date. I smiled at her and said a hello that was accompanied by that nervous wave that we humans tend to do when we walk into a room full of strange people. Or maybe it’s just me.

“I know you. You went to QC didn’t you?”

Ah, she was one of the millions of QC girls roaming the face of this earth. I didn’t recognise her but she remembered so much about me for someone who wasn’t in my year that I was a little embarrassed. I’m pretty good with names and faces and I’m not one to pretend I don’t know people for the sake of seeming cool. Not that there’s anything cool about it. Unfortunately, try though I did, I just couldn’t remember the girl. She seemed pretty irritated by that and it annoyed me a teeny bit.

Is it by force for someone to know you?!

Aware that we’d gotten off to a shaky start, I turned on the charm and started asking her a load of questions. We got chatting and she asked the question I’d been asked by pretty much every soul I’d met since I’d stepped off the plane.

“How are you finding Abuja?”

Abuja was Abuja. I’d visited the city a couple of times before I was exported over the seas and while it was busier and more densely populated than I remembered it, it was essentially the same place. The only thing I hadn’t been prepared for was the scorching heat. If you’ve ever been to Abuja, you will know that the sun that shines there is not the same sun that shines in the rest of the world. If you venture there at the wrong time of the year, it is melt-your-skin-and-dissolve-your-bones hot. To compound matters, I’d broken out in heat rashes within 24hours of my arrival. All in all, the weather was dealing with me severely and given that I didn’t know what else to say to the girl, I thought I’d share that.
“It’s been good. The heat is crazy though, I don’t remember Abuja being this hot!”

“I beg jo, stop forming! Why are you behaving like you didn’t grow up in Nigeria?!” she replied, disdain dripping off every word.

“Huh?!” *confused face*

To say that I was stunned would be an understatement. Since when did being hot become something to feel superior about?!

“Sorry, I’m not allowed to be hot because I grew up in Nigeria?!”

That was the end of that. I stood up, said my goodbyes and went home. I was FURIOUS!
Umpteen years later, thinking about it still annoys me. I don’t remember the girl’s name and I wouldn’t recognise her if I saw her again but the stranger still has the ability to rile me. There is a perception of Nigerians who live outside Nigeria that like every generalisation isn’t true of everyone. The perception is that we are stuck up, fancy pants that live for opportunities to announce to the world that we have spent a portion of our lives living abroad and therefore deserve to be treated like crown jewels. I have no doubt this stereotype is true of some people, but to tar everyone with the same brush is not just unfair; it is ignorant and downright ridiculous.

My first winter in England, I was convinced the cold would surely kill me. I would stand at my front door for minutes trying to grip my keys with numb hands. I thought people were MAD for wearing skirts in winter, never mind that they were wearing tights. I honestly though I wouldn’t survive my first winter yet, thirteen odd years later, I don’t own any thermal underwear, live in skirts and 20 denier tights and wear peep toe shoes in the thick of winter.

What my dear playmate classed as ‘forming’ was far from it; I was simply being human. It really doesn’t matter where you grew up, it is human nature to adapt and acclimatise to new environments. That aside, even those that were born, bred and never left Abuja are surely entitled to be hot too!

I have written far more words than I intended to so I will end this with a few words for my play date.

 

Dear play date, not every “diasporan” you meet is “forming”. Some of us are really just hot!

xXx
Waila

Guess Who’s Back!

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Hello there people!

After a rather lengthy hiatus, I am back in the business of blogging!

I cannot tell a lie, I have missed you my cyber buddies! You know those friends you have that you don’t speak to for years but when you do, it’s like you spoke to them yesterday? Let’s be like those friends.

I have missed writing. Among other things, I write (business documents) for a living but in the world of writing, nothing, absolutely nothing, beats pouring out your imagination, thoughts and emotions on paper.  There is only so much love, humour, pain and anger one can infuse into a document defining how Bank of XYZ intends to configure their back office systems.

Have you noticed the new improved layout? I hope you like it because I certainly do! I spent HOURS sorting through and categorising my previous posts. It’s been a long time since I stayed up late to do anything, but stay up late I did. My brain does not function at night but I willed all my brain cells to stay awake for mummy. In my next life, I must return as a tech head. I would like to say a big thank-you to YouTube without whom, the task would have been infinitely more gargantuan. If you have any suggestions on how I can further improve the user experience, please don’t hesitate to offer your opinions and suggestions.

The year 2014 has been good to me. There have been so many highs, I struggle to remember the lows. I have plenty of stories, thoughts and random bits of information to share with you so please don’t give up on me just yet.

You know I like a challenge so if there are any topics or issues you would like me to tackle (through fiction or otherwise) do let me know and I will do my best to deliver.

Thanks for reading and encouraging me along the way and a special thanks to those of you who have stopped me in the streets of London to tell me off for not blogging!

Your concern and kind words are very much appreciated!

Hugs all round!

xXx

Waila

 

Two Become One Problems: Who Ate My Rice?!

If you think you’re the most selfless person that ever lived, I dare you to move into a house full of people and promise to be there for you when you realise just how selfish you really are. Don’t judge yourself too harshly though, communal living brings out the worst in us all. The manifestation of your selfishness will take different forms but today, we’ll be focusing on food.

A couple of days ago, I had a Facetime date with one of my girlfriends. At some point during the conversation, I noticed her opening up cupboard after cupboard, making a right racket. I almost died laughing when she confessed that she was looking for somewhere to hide a packet of biscuits from her husband! I couldn’t judge her though because heaven knows I have on occasion, rushed home from work to make sure I got to the leftovers in the fridge before my Yoruba boy. First come, first served!

Thanking you very much for your prayers, it will be well.

When you live with people, the contents of your fridge develop hands, legs, wings, propellers and all sorts of agents of transportation. But when you get married, it’s a whole new ball game. You see, when you live with strangers or even siblings, you can set boundaries. The boundary lines might be crossed by the brave amongst them but when you’re screaming at your sister for eating the bowl of rice you left in the fridge, you will feel justified. Try screaming at your husband when (and not if!) he eats the bowl of jollof rice you left in the fridge and if you don’t feel foolish as the words are flying out of your mouth, I envy you!

You see, the concept of two becoming one creates all kinds of problems in a home. It implies that what’s mine is yours and vice versa. There’s no more me, it’s now us. It means you cannot claim sole ownership of ANYTHING , especially things in the fridge, after all, OUR money paid for them. Never mind who journeyed to the supermarket, who stood sweating over the cooker and took the initiative to pack up the leftovers. All that one is for your pocket. Na who carry sense go market na him dey chop bellefull! In other words, you snooze you lose!

jollof

There are few things more painful in life than spending all day dreaming about the jollof rice in your fridge only to get home and find out it is no more. Such was my fate the other day. If not that shame would not have allowed me to cry, I would have wept for England. Alas, these are some of the problems that arise when two people are targeting one bowl of rice.

I have learnt my lesson.

I’m up and out of the house before my Yoruba boy gets out of bed so if there’s anything in the fridge I’m feeling particularly proprietal about, I get in there and take it to work with me. I will leave him to come up with his own strategy.

Every man for himself, God for us all!

xXx

Waila

Back and Forth and Back and Forth

We had breakfast together like we always did but I couldn’t eat, hadn’t eaten much since she died a month ago. I watched him swallow mouthful after mouthful of boiled yam and corned beef stew, with the occasional sip of water to help pave the way. The temptation to pray he choked was overwhelming; I envied his ability to satisfy his hunger. The fist of grief that had made its home in my throat, making it impossible for anything to get past it, had obviously not paid him a visit.
I wanted to ask how he did it, how me managed to make it from one day to the next with such ease, but I didn’t know how. We didn’t talk much, we never had, and we certainly didn’t trade confidences or dabble in emotions. I wanted to ask if he also lay awake at night, the sound of her voice gliding gracefully in his head until he was convinced she was lying next to him, whispering softly in his ear. Did he see her when he closed his eyes? Did her scent dance under his nose too? Did he stand in front of his bedroom mirror watching his snot and tears collide, feeling sorry for himself, and intermittently bursting into laughter at the idiocy of it all?
Nothing seemed to faze him, not once in the last month had he deviated from normality. Her journey to death was sudden, we didn’t see it coming. One Tuesday morning she woke up with a headache, by night fall she’d died of a brain haemorrhage. Three days later, she was buried. Screams and sobs, wails and paranormal expressions of pain, echoed throughout the grave yard as her body was lowered into the ground. Yet, not a sound did he make, not even a dignified sniff. Not as much as a lone tear fought its way past his eye lids. Hadn’t he loved her, didn’t he care enough for the barest tinge of sadness to cast a shadow over his expressionless face?
“Your father is not the emotional type,” she always said when I complained about his matter-of-fact approach to life, “but it doesn’t mean he doesn’t care, he just doesn’t show it.”
My heart was getting crushed under the weight of my unspoken grief. I wanted to talk about her, share my memories with him. I wanted to tell him I wasn’t coping, couldn’t cope. I’d woken up a few days before to find my underwear and bed sheet soaked in blood. I’d started to panic before realisation hit me; I’d become a woman. Who was I supposed to tell? I’d been walking around for three days with my underwear lined with my old tank tops.
The tears I’d been struggling to keep hidden from public view began to slide down my cheeks. I tried to stop them, to make them retrace their steps, but the harder I fought them, the faster they flowed. I gave in to the grief and wept so hard, my chest felt like it would burst open. Eyes blinded by tears, I didn’t realise he had moved to sit beside me till his arms embraced me. I lashed out in anger, pounding my fists against his chest. How could he be so quietly calm when my whole world was falling apart?!
Gently, he lifted me off my seat and settled me in his laps, cradling my head against his chest. Slowly, he began to rock me back and forth. Back and forth, back and forth, till my fists stilled. Still he continued to rock me, back and forth, back and forth. My breathing evened out. Back and forth, back and forth, till the tears subsided. Eventually, I looked up. It was then I saw the stream of tears flowing steadily, silently, down his face. I wrapped my arms around him and squeezed as tightly as I could. My heart felt lighter. I knew I was not alone.

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Some Things Never Change

Some Things Never Change

It’s the start of a new year and change is in the air. Shingalinga (educate yourself here) is at an all time high and women like me who have never shot a hoop are hoping to be drafted into the NBA by the end of 2014. I mean, who wants the WNBA when the NBA is alive and paying millions. Aim high, aim impossible!

In the spirit of the New Year, I have been assessing the year(s) gone by and in the course of my assessment, I made a shocking discovery. Yes shocking because while it is widely agreed that the only constant in life is change, it is also true that some things never change.

Things like…

  • my mother being a women with skin heads activist

Since my mother was forced for medical reasons, to get rid of her hair twenty odd years ago, I have known no peace. The woman is hell bent on getting me to join the gorimapa (skin head) club. I was in Primary 6 (Year 6 to my fellow *cough couch* Brits) when she succeeded in temporarily converting me. I lived to regret it. Such was the horrendous teasing from my two evil brothers (they took to calling me Mike Tyson!) that I took to wearing a baseball cap everywhere. Everywhere of course included school, for which I got many a flogging. Is it any wonder that till this day I have an aversion to short hair?! *shudder*

  • being opinionated

You don’t want to ask my opinion on an issue if you really don’t want to know what I think because you will regret it. I have strong opinions on almost everything under the sun. It gets tiring being so passionate about so many things in this world. Can’t a girl just be blasé about life?!

  • losing umbrellas

Buying an umbrella is like ripping up a five pound note and chucking it in the bin. You’re a better person than I am if you have ever managed to hold on to an umbrella for more than 24hrs. Perhaps I am exaggerating but it’s not far from the truth. I have taken to helping myself to lost and found umbrellas, resting in the knowledge that someone somewhere is doing the same with the hundreds of brollies I have misplaced since I was born.

  • forks and teaspoons eloping

Where do all the forks and teaspoons go? To Vegas to get married, that’s where! I think. Today you have six of each, tomorrow, you have none. Please, if you know where they go, kindly inform me so I can head down there with a trailer to reclaim my lost property. My Yoruba Boy is prohibited from taking cutlery out of the house and worse still, from bringing home strange forks (that do not match our cutlery set) from his office. Let it never be said that I harbour fugitives.

Knives on the other hand, are friends that stick closer than brothers. When the rest of your cutleries do a runner, you can be sure your knives will stick around. The world would be a better place if one could use them to shovel mounds of rice into one’s mouths without stabbing one’s self.

  • hating my behind

I hate big butts and I cannot lie. This is why the likes of JLo and KimK never make my celebrity bodies to be envious of short list. This people, is a problem because I am one of those that the Lord has blessed with a derriere. No matter how slim I get, the bad boys stick out like a giraffe on an ant farm.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

xXx

Waila

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The Obligatory New Year Post

It’s fair to say 2013 wasn’t a great year for me as far as blogging is concerned. I was as inconsistent as inconsistent can be. I’m not trying to make any promises for 2014 lest I fall flat on my face but I am working on managing my time to make room for Waila to do Waila and write more regularly.

Last year was unforgettable in many ways, getting married being the highlight as most of you already know. But it also sucked in many other ways; the stumbling block that planted itself in the way of my getting married being the lowest point. My 2013 was consumed by my transition from Miss to Mrs and much as I’m grateful and happy to be married to my Yoruba Boy, I’m looking forward to the new things 2014 will bring.

Yes, I know round about now every blogger is expressing gratitude but as cliche as it may seem, we really cannot take our readers for granted. If it wasn’t for you guys, I’d still be unconvinced that I’m any good at writing. If it wasn’t for you guys I’d still be on my knees asking God what I ought to be doing with my life. If it wasn’t for those of you that harassed me, my sporadic posts would have been even more sporadic. So when I say thank you, I’m not saying it to tick any boxes, it really does come from the bottom of my heart.

I’m praying 2014 will be the year my relationship with my God reaches new depths.

I am praying that in 2014 I will become a better me, a better wife, better daughter, better sister and better friend.

I’m praying 2014 will be the year I find the courage to pursue my musical aspirations.

I’m praying 2014 will be the year I write that book.

From my living room, clad in my alumni sweatshirt and track bottoms, my hair bound by the most ratchet of durags hidden under a pair of tights turned cap, I wish you all a happy new year.

May 2014 be the year you find truth, courage and hope.

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Love Always,
Waila

Oops!!!

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No one likes to screw up but if like me you are plagued by the curse of having exceedingly high expectations of yourself coupled with a phobia for embarrassment, it is as devastating as an epically proportioned natural disaster on an unsuspecting city.

My fear of embarrassment is legendary. I have been known to faint and be so embarrassed about it, I pretended to still be unconscious long after I came around. I didn’t open my eyes till I had been safely carted out of the very public space where it happened and secluded in an ambulance. I am that bad.

Last week I made a mistake, a fairly big one and the fall out from my mistake met with me this morning. My instinctive reaction was to smash a hole in a wall and crawl into it. Seeing as that wasn’t a viable option, I sat at my desk, uncharacteristically sober and silent, for the best part of the day.

I am human and by virtue of that, intrinsically fallible. Making mistakes is in my DNA, yet, I haven’t managed to communicate that fact to my brain and deal with it accordingly. It is part and parcel of life and an essential component for growth. You make a mistake, you learn from it, move on and become better for it. That’s the way it should work. That is wisdom. Beating oneself up, especially over an action that cannot be altered, is an exercise in foolishness and futility.

I think my brain is slowly beginning to understand this.

I started off writing this as an outlet for my pent up frustration with myself and the situation. I do this a lot by the way, write to clear my head. But perhaps someone out there needs to be reminded that making a mistake is not the end of the world. The sun isn’t going to stop shining because you cocked up so you might as well enjoy the sunshine.

Sometimes our mistakes are minor. Sometimes they are major, life altering even. Sometimes they are visible, seen and judged by other. Sometimes they are private, known only to you. Whatever the circumstance, it is never productive to beat yourself to paralysis or wallow in it.

So, my fellow error makers, this one is for you;

Make your mistake. Because you will, there’s no escaping it.

Contemplate. Don’t just dismiss it, acknowledge your errors… but don’t dwell on them.

Evaluate. Thoughtfully consider your actions. What you did, what you should have done differently.

Learn. The only thing worse than making a mistake is making a worthless mistake. Learn from it.

Move on. Forgive yourself. Even if no one else does.

xXx
Waila

The Man I Met

20131028-155827.jpgI met a man, the perfect man. Gentle, yet a tower of strength when I lost my mother. I sat and watched as he calmly but firmly took charge of the funeral arrangements when I didn’t have the energy to deal with it all. Patient, he sat with me in silence for days on end, when the words wreaking havoc in my mind wouldn’t escape through my lips. Caring, he held me when I sobbed uncontrollably as her body was lowered into the ground, his arms, the only things stopping me from plunging six feet under the ground. Funny, his unlimited selection of rib crackers teased the first smile from my lips, proving his emphatic declaration that he’d make me smile again.

When we are together, he makes me feel like the single most important thing in his world, the world. Some nights he stays over and I dream of what marriage to him would be like;

I dream of the moment our eyes would meet as I walk down the aisle, towards him. I imagine his, bright with tears, staring deep into my soul, making promises that transcended words. I imagine stirring every morning with the certainty that he’d be right there, lying next to me, when I open my eyes. I’d be home waiting when he got in from work; table set, dinner ready with a glass of wine waiting to take the edge off his day. I’d be showered and wrapped in satin and lace, a parcel for him to unravel. I imagine myself gently stroking my stomach, swollen with his child. I imagine my feet swollen, waist thickened, neck blackened and nose doubled in size; none of which would matter as he gazes adoringly into my eyes.

Would our daughter inherit the lone dimple in his left check? Would she be collectedly confident like her father or a boisterous scatterbrain like me? Would our son be his father’s copy or a spitting image of me?

The nights he goes home, I try not to think about it, try not to picture his boys running into his arms as he walks through the door, screaming, “Daddy!” I try not to wonder if she wonders where he is when he isn’t with her. I try not to picture her lying in bed with him, touching him, kissing him. I know how much he loves a good cuddle and I try not to picture his arms wrapped tightly around her, as he snores gently through the night.

Does he love her, really love her? Do his eyes light up when she walks in the room? When they are together, does he make her feel like the single most important thing in his world, the world?

We share a home; his clothes hang next to mine in the wardrobe, his toiletries sit next to mine in the bathroom. The smell of his cigar permeates the entire flat and the fridge is full of his favourite things. I could have his babies, permanent reminders of him left behind when he’s not around and I know he’d be there for us, look after us, come what may. But I hate that the thing I want the most, his name; a public declaration that I belong to him and he, to me, he’s already given to someone else.

Tales From the Underground: Silly Me!!!

The cutest little boy was sat opposite me on the DLR yesterday. He had the most gorgeous curly blonde hair and his eyes were a sparkly green. He had me all gooey even before he smiled at me. That smile! It made me want to rush home and create my own little heart stealer. Not that the son I will (some day) produce has any hope of having hair; blonde or otherwise. You should see his father and his grandfather’s gorimapa, all hope is lost I tell you. They didn’t try for my son at all.

When I returned Blondie’s smile, he giggled and buried his face in his mum’s jacket. And so our game began. I’d wait for him to look my way and then give him a mega watt smile. He in turn would giggle and duck behind his mother. After a few minutes, I thought I’d up the ante of the game so the next time he looked my way, I crossed my eyes and stuck my tongue out at him.

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His eyebrows shot up in surprised and he doubled over laughing. When Blondie managed to right himself, he held my gaze for the first time, shook his head and said in a rather adult voice, “That was REALLY silly!”

His mother looked mortified.

“Brian, that’s rude!”

“But it’s true!”

“She was only trying to make you laugh!”

“I know mummy and it was funny BUT it was also silly!”

At this point, I couldn’t hold back my laughter any longer. He did have a point, at my old age I shouldn’t be sticking out my tongue at people and making faces! His mother, obviously relieved that I wasn’t offended, offered an apologetic smile.

Funny as it was, he’s lucky we’re not in Lagos; I’d have pulled his ear and ‘konked’ his head!