Once Upon a Boarder: The Beginning

QC GirlI vividly remember my first day in Secondary School. I woke up that Sunday morning with a spring in my step. I was finally going off to boarding school and not just any school, the famous Queen’s College aka QC! Every single item (useful and useless) on my check-list had been bought. Between my mother and myself, we knew that I didn’t need 12 dozen name tags or 10 dozen handkerchiefs…but if the school said I needed it, so be it!

I walked through the gates of Queen’s college in my oversize Sunday wear, dragging my matching suitcases behind me. I had bought the cases while on holiday that summer and refused to tear the protective covers off until that morning; I needed everything to be brand spanking new. The confidence with which I approached the check-in desk was impressive. I refused to let my mother speak on my behalf, determined to handle the process like a big girl. I banished her to a corner while I sorted out the formalities. I didn’t want her escorting me to my dorm room either but she insisted so I grudgingly let her. The corridors were filled with the sounds of JSS1 girls bawling as their parents left but no, not me. I all but shoved mine out of the door so I could explore my new found independence in peace!

The reality of my situation didn’t dawn on me until I woke up at 1am the following morning needing to pee. There was no light (power cut) and the silence that engulfed the boarding house area was deafening. All the stories I had heard about witches, wizards and some female spirit that wore stilettos (madam koikoi), visiting students in the middle of the night, came flooding in. For the first time I wondered why the hell I was not in my mother’s house where her fervent prayers were sure to keep demonic forces at bay. I didn’t want to be the newbie that wet her bed though so I grabbed my Rosary, flicked on my torchlight and sprinted to the toilet. I have never peed so fast in all my life. I raced back to my dorm and buried myself under my bedspread in record time. Clutching my Rosary, I chanted Hail Mary’s until God had mercy on me and put me to sleep. That was how I survived my first night.

My first shock came when I was woken up a couple of hours later to have a shower. I stared at the well-meaning junior dorm captain (JDC) like she had lost her mind.

“But it’s 3am!”

She patiently explained to me that junior girls didn’t dare venture near the bathrooms after 5am, especially not a fresher like me. Earlier was better if I intended to attend my first day of classes smelling fresh.  And that was how I found myself having a shower at roughly 3.30am. In the coming days I discovered that that shower had been a welcome present from the gods; for it was one of the only times that year, water flowed in the bathrooms!

If you went to boarding school in Nigeria, you will know there is a hierarchy and JSS1 girls are at the bottom of the food chain. I didn’t know this till I had my first encounter with a senior the very next day. I was lying on my bed hatching my escape plan when my thoughts were rudely interrupted by a senior shouting my name.

At first I ignored her, I really wasn’t in the mood for conversation, but the third time she screamed my name, I sensed danger.  It was too early in the game for drama so I dragged myself out of bed.

“Take this bottle to slabs and fill it with water.”

It didn’t occur to me that I didn’t have the right to refuse, so refuse is what I did.

“Sorry but I’m not in the mood to go anywhere.”

I knew I had said the wrong thing when all the seniors in the vicinity, who had been lazing in bed half naked, sprang to attention.

Shouts of, “Ehn, junior girl what did you just say?!” filled the dorm and in hindsight, I would like to thank God for sparing my life that day, for only He can explain how I dodged a bruising!

The senior, under the influence of grace, sat me down and gave me the lowdown on how things worked. In this new order I found myself in, I was the equivalent of a slave, the property of my seniors. If I dared disobey them or be rude to them, they would send me to join my father in the afterlife.  Once she was satisfied that I understood my place, she thrust the bottle in my hand and ordered me to find my way to slabs. The JDC pulled me aside and kindly informed me that slabs were the rows of taps by the Sick Bay, where students fetched water.

And that was my first encounter with a senior. Much as I hated the fact that I was rudely ejected from my bed without a choice in the matter, I like to think I won that round. If she looked closely, she may have spotted traces of saliva floating through her bottle of water. Or maybe not.  After all, I did give it a good shake!

New Series: Once Upon a Boarder

Hi folks!

Guess who’s back, back again. Waila’s back, tell a friend! #hieminem

Yes, we’ve been here before but let’s not dwell on that.

It feels good to be writing again but I must admit I’m a bit rusty. I don’t remember it taking me this long to churn out a post. I guess that’s my punishment for neglecting the craft for so long.

I’d like to thank the Twitterati for shaming me out of hiding. I’d been meaning to snap out of the funk and resume blogging but when one of my old blog posts suddenly started making the rounds on Twitter, I logged into my blog and was shocked at how long it had been since I had last published a post. I honestly thought it had only been a couple of months. Somebody say deluded!

Well, I’m back with a brand new series!

QC LogoYou know I like to document my memories and what better memories to pen than those I amassed at Secondary School?! If like me you went to a government boarding school in Nigeria, you will know that it was a life changing experience. For those of you that don’t know, I am a QC girl…that’s Queen’s College to my non Nigerian readers. It was one the most popular schools in the country and while I will admit it was one of the better government schools, there was nothing posh about it. Really, nothing!

Lack of ‘poshness’ aside, I don’t regret my time there. It taught me so much about the world and life in general. I always say that QC was a pretty good replica of the real world. There aren’t many schools where you will find the daughter of a driver sat next to the daughter of a multimillionaire. We had students cutting across the tribal, class and financial divides and it really did give you a glimpse of real life.

Many of the relationships I made there are still going strong and while academically I didn’t learn a damn thing, I did learn how to pass exams, iron without an iron and rebel without appearing rebellious!

In this series, I will share some of my secondary school stories with you. Each story will be complete so there’ll be no waiting for part two. It will be interjected with other posts though so if you find that next week I write about something different, be not confused.

The first story will be up this week. I am not active on Twitter so it’s not the best place to look for me. If you subscribe to this blog, you will get an email alert when the post is published. You can also follow me on Facebook and Instagram for updates!

Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/waila.caan

Instagram: @wailacaan

Happy Wednesday!

xXx

Waila

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19 Bush Street : Part 2 of 2

For eight years we pleaded with God to bless us with a child. I prayed fervently, cried diligently and fasted religiously, starving myself until my pot belly deflated, my cheeks became hollow and my collar bone threatened to break free.

“Eat my darling, please eat!” she would cry, fearing for my life. Eat? Was food going to improve the quality of my sperm?  How could I eat, knowing I was the reason we were childless? Every night we knelt to pray, I asked God to forgive me for not telling her the truth; for not telling my wife that my non-existent sperm count was the reason we were childless.

My fast was a signal to God; I needed Him to feel my desperation, needed Him to see how much I was willing to sacrifice if He would only make a real man out of me.

“It is God that gives children,” they said, but that was no encouragement to me. Had I done something wrong, something that deserved such a severe punishment? I gave to the poor, fed the hungry and looked after widows hoping that God would see what a good person I was and have mercy on me.  I clung to hope, to the belief that the God I believed in would end my misery.

And then one day, the very thing I had been praying for, we had been praying for, finally happened.

That day, the day she told me she was pregnant, everything changed. Hope turned to the darkest form of despair, sorrow to a blinding rage. I knew then that I had surely offended God. After everything I had done for him, given up for him, how could he sit back and let this happen to me?

I saw fear in her eyes as she stood before me, silently begging for my understanding.

Shame embraced me tightly as the reality sunk in; another man had given her what I couldn’t. A better man, a real man, had stepped in and excelled where I had failed so miserably.

Shame turned to anger and I struck her across the face; twice. She stood still, tacitly urging me to carry on if it would make me feel better. It didn’t but I slapped her a third time for good measure. Still she said nothing, gave no explanation and in that moment, I knew that she never would.

There was no miracle about her pregnancy; no divine intervention or immaculate conception. Someone had impregnated my wife and neither I nor God was responsible. I knew it, God knew it and she sure as hell knew it. For months I had been unable to handle matters in the bedroom. The pressure to father a child and the guilt of the secret I was carrying had taken its toll on my libido.

Anger coursed through my veins as I imagined another man flooding her womb.

Did she love him? Did he love her? Was it a one night stand or were emotions involved? Who was he; someone I knew or a stranger she just met? Did she even know or were there a number of potential candidates?

Months went by and the bigger her belly grew, the hotter my anger burned. I wanted to tell the world she was no better than a common prostitute, selling herself for the seed of a man. I wanted the world to hate her for betraying me in the worst possible way but to do that would be to admit that I, the same man who cruised the streets of Lagos in cars ten times the size of my flowing agbadas, could not impregnate his own wife.  So I smiled when people congratulated me and sang praises to God on my behalf. And the more I had to smile the more I loathed her for making a fool of me.

I gave him my name but even before he was born, I knew I could never love him. I watched him as he grew to see if he resembled anyone I knew but he was the spitting image of his mother. I saw how her eyes would light up when she looked at him and hated him with every fibre of my being. He was a constant reminder of my inadequacy as a man and yet I had to feed and clothe him and pretend he wasn’t some faceless man’s bastard son. I prayed she would go and take her trash with her, but I should have known better. If my prayers didn’t work when I was giving away my wealth and starving myself, it certainly wouldn’t work now that I was at war with God.

I pummelled her, hoping she would pack her bags and leave, but she didn’t. I beat the crap out of him hoping the so called love of a mother would compel her to whisk her bastard to safety, and still she stayed. No matter how mean I was, how monstrously I behaved, she wouldn’t leave me.

I knew what she wanted, what she craved more than anything, but over my dead body would I give it to her. She would have to turn to God to absolve her of her guilt because I would never forgive her for defiling our marriage, for taking what was left of my pride and burning it to ashes.

19 Bush Street : Part 1 of 2

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His face was redder than I’d ever seen it, eyes bloodshot and spilling hot tears, scalding tracks along his cheeks. I’d see him cry many a time, usually in silence, but this, the state he was in, was new territory. I heard the cracks as his heart splintered, the sharp edges piercing his lungs, drawing blood and cutting off his air supply. I caught him in my arms as his knees gave way. It was then I felt the throbbing welts peppered across his back. Anger burned within me.

How could he do this to him?!

Yet I was powerless to act. I lowered myself to the ground, taking him down with me, gently rocking him as he cried out in agony, silence, no longer an option.

“It’s okay Baba, it’s okay,” I whispered over and over again as I continued to rock him in my arms.

“Why does he hate me so much, Tega?! What have I done to him?! I want to die Tega, I want to die! God please let me die, I am tired of living!”

I wanted to tell him everything would be alright but knew I’d be lying. If the things I had witnessed in the two weeks I had been living with them were anything to go by, it was only a matter of time before Baba’s wish would be granted.

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I’d met Big Uncle once before I came to live with him; when he came to Warri for Papa’s funeral. He was the golden boy of the family, the only one for generations to break free from the clutches of poverty. His hands fed many mouths, mouths that multiplied as poverty continued to breed poverty. He was a demi god, the saviour of the family. When he mentioned in passing that he was in need of domestic help, Mama latched on to his words like a baby suckling its mother’s breast. She offered me up speedily, eager to please her saviour. With Papa gone, life was about to get even tougher for her. Being in our benefactor’s good books was of the utmost importance.

I was excited, eager to see Lagos, the land of opportunity and the birth place of Big Uncle’s fortunes. The schools they said, were better and to Mama’s horror, Big Uncle had agreed to fund my education when I cheekily asked. The only reason she didn’t beat me black and blue was because He seemed pleased with the idea. I would go to school during the day and cook and do chores at night. I had dreams of going to University and the thought that I could potentially be the second ever graduate in the family, a student of Unilag, made me giddy with excitement. My chest thrust itself outwards and I walked around the family compound like a peacock about to take flight.

The day I told Papa I wanted to go to University, he laughed so hard, Mama had to pat his back furiously to stop him from choking. To prove a point, I sat JAMB and passed with flying colours. Not that anyone cared. I wasn’t going anywhere when Mama needed a hand frying akara in the market. Yet, here I was, packing my meager belongings, getting ready to leave the smell of stale oil and soaking beans behind.

When I arrived at 19 Bush Street and realised I would have a bedroom all to myself, I danced in circles till I became unsteady. I would no longer have to share a room with all three of my siblings. After years of dodging my younger sister’s fists as her subconscious dealt blow after blow in the midnight hour, I would have a bed all to myself. A proper bed complete with a mattress and bed sheet! Collapsing on the bed, I stared at the ceiling in awe. A fan stared back at me. A fan, a ceiling fan in my bedroom?! Heaven was finally smiling down on me.

The first time I saw Big Uncle beat Baba, I knew for sure that heaven had tricked me. I had traded in a lesser form of hell for the ultimate damnation. I had seen many parents beat their children, received many beatings from Papa myself, but this beating, was like nothing I had seen before. He unbuckled his belt, backed him up against the wall and flogged him till he collapsed to the ground. But for the sound of the leather slapping against Baba’s skin, the room was silent.

The speed with which Big Uncle’s hand contracted and relaxed as he swung blow after blow, left me speechless. Tears pricked the backs of my eyelids but I didn’t think I had the right to indulge in tears. If Baba could lie in silence while Big Uncle beat him for dead, who was I to cry?!

I stood motionless till satisfied with his handiwork, Big Uncle left the room. A part of me feared the blood stained body lying still against the wall, was a corpse. Staring intently, I willed it to come alive. What would people say if they heard that a man had used his hands to kill his own son?!
And then I saw his chest heave. Tears of relief streamed down my face.

Everything would be alright.

Thou Shall Not Covet

longthroat.com

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.

 

IMG_1002

 

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!

back

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