Month: November 2010

You Can Thank MEE Later

I had the pleasure of meeting a true gentleman last week. I’m not sure how old he is but I’d hazard a guess and say he’s knocking on 70. I would never have imagined a 70 year old human being and I would have so much in common, more so one of Nigerian heritage. I can’t remember ever meeting a Nigerian in his generation so free spirited and open. We had the most delightful conversations.  I have fallen in like with him and will be seeing more of him, so help me my schedule.

Impressed though I was by him, I was soon reminded that for all the brilliant things he had to say, he is still a Nigerian man…an Urhobo one at that. For all the ladies wanting to breed the children of a good Nigerian man, read this and be educated. You can thank me by naming your first child after me.

Rule #1: There’s a catholic chaplaincy of Nigeria in South London that houses eligible young men. Catholic young men make the best partners…genuine in their faith and not shallow like those penterascals. Shun Catholicism at your peril.

Rule #2: You must be wise. He must have ‘papers’ else you will never know if the love he has is for you or your ‘kpali’ (passport). A good man always has ‘papers’. It’s okay if you don’t have ‘papers’. The heart of a woman isn’t so callous as to marry for visa. A man on the other hand…

Rule #3: Do away with all this western foolishness. Know your place and stay there! You are hereby sentenced to a life of in-kitchen-ment.  Oh, make sure you know how to cook authentic Nigerian food. Spaghetti bolognese will not suffice.

Rule #4: Breed like dogs girls, breed! All this 2.5kids business…hogwash! You must provide the man with enough children to form a circle around him while he entertains them with his life stories.

Rule #5: Before you start breeding, make sure you are married. No Nigerian man likes ‘abasha’ (leftovers) or wants to responsible for another mans child.

Rule #6: Avoid showy types from moneyed homes. Go for the quietly successful. Fewer people are likely to want his or his father’s head spitting money from a wardrobe.

Rule #7: You must have enough meat on your bones to feed him…but not the five thousand. They do not like their women looking like blobs of amala. Work on your figure. Don’t overdo it though. If you’re too skinny they won’t believe you don’t have aids.

He painstakinly explained his reasons for each statement…and very eloquently too.  So much so that I didn’t know how to tell him I’m on the prowl for a sandy haired, blue-eyed hunk that looks like a cross between Martin Henderson and Patrick Dempsey!

xxx

Waila Caan

What Does a Girl Have to Do to Get Some Sleep?!

I was very early for work this morning thanks to my mother.

Every weekday my alarm goes off at 6am. I snooze till about 6.45 and then jump out of bed, shower and get dressed at break neck speed. I like to get into the office for 8am but my addiction to the snooze function on my phone makes it difficult.

This morning I was woken up by a nudge from my mother. ‘MEE you will be late for work.’ I opened my eyes and checked my alarm. It was 4am. I ignored her and went back to sleep.

‘MEE, you will be late for work. Wake up.’ I opened my eyes again and checked the time on my phone. It was 4.30am.

‘Mummy, my alarm will go off when it’s time for me to wake up.’ I went back to bed.

Nudge. Nudge. ‘MEE, you’re still sleeping?! You will be late o!’

I had to take a few deep breaths to calm myself down. ‘Mummy, when it’s time for me to wake up my alarm will go off!’

‘What if your alarm is not working?’

Aargh! ‘Mummy, it is working!’ I reached for my phone to check the time. It was 5am. I went back to bed.

‘MEE, I don’t want you to be late for work. Get up and go and have a shower.’

At this point I wasn’t sure who to strangle. Her or myself? LEAVE ME ALONE MOTHER!

‘I wake up and get to work on time when you’re not here. Please allow me sleep in peace!’

‘I’m just saying. You know anything can happen. What if the trains are delayed? You have to get up early to make sure…’

I jumped out of bed. She was driving me nuts! I do this every day and suddenly, because she’s in town I’ve become incapable?! Aaargh!

I moved to the sofa to try and revisit dream land. Fail. Defeated, I jumped into the shower to get myself ready.

Today I got to the office at 7:40am. I had to take a walk around the area to avoid being the first person on my floor.

Tonight I might throw a couple of sleeping pills into her night time cuppa. If that’s the only way I can get some sleep, so be it!

xxx

MEE

Release Your Inhibitions

Today I encountered a mentally unbalanced man at my local train station. His head was adorned with the largest headphones I’ve ever seen. He was singing at the top of his lungs and gyrating like a dog on heat. Ever so often, he would twitch and itch like a crack head gone cold turkey. Or maybe he’s plagued by an illness of sorts. Whatever the case, he was more than a little frightening.

I should have been scared but I wasn’t. I was fascinated…and jealous. Do you know how many times I’ve wanted to sing and dance on that very platform but chickened out for fear of making a fool of myself?! Some days I sit on the train listening to songs that make me want to throw my hands in the air, wriggle my hips and drop down and get my eagle on.

I never have.

I’m much too reserved and self conscious for that. My dear friend Stinkus on the other hand is seriously lacking in decorum. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen her aim her invisible machine gun, open her mouth and drop down in a public space. The girl is an embarrassment to me.

I envy her lack of inhibition though.

There are so many things I wish I could do that social etiquette, self consciousness and to put it plainly, a lack of balls, prevent me from doing.

For example, I’m standing in front of a hairless man on the train at the moment. There isn’t a single strand of hair on his head. I kid you not. I’m dying to rub his head but something tells me he won’t be amused.

There’s another guy sitting in front of me wearing a shirt that is buttoned up to his eyebrows. He looks like an inmate in an asylum. I just want to undo a few buttons and tell him to relax a little.

The woman next to him is carrying a handbag the size of a black bin liner. There’s also a giant rucksack nestled between her legs. I desperately want to ask her what kpanti (junk) she’s logging around London in rush hour.

The guy standing next to me is reading a book. He’s wearing really thick gloves though so each time he tries to turn a page, wahala (trouble). Have you ever tried to turn a page while wearing thick gloves? It makes zero sense. My friend take the thing off and stop elbowing me! I can’t say that though. I have to smile politely and say ‘it’s okay,’ each time he assaults me.

Whose idea was this decorum thing?! Sigh.

The Trials of Mama Waila: Part 1 of 2

We once had a house help called Effiong. I didn’t have a problem with him. Not until the night he smoked pot and decided to test me.

My mother was out and I was home with my brother G and Uncle P.

‘Go and call me Effiong,’ said Uncle P.

Obedient child that I was, I made my way to the front of the house to ask the security guard if he had seen him. On reaching the gate, I spotted Effiong across the street, perched on a block of cement.

‘Effiong, Uncle P is calling you.’

‘Get lost, stupid bitch!’

Huh?!?!

‘What did you just say to me?’

‘Get out bitch!’

I saw red.

‘Are you mad? Who are you calling a bitch? You’re crazy!’

Na you crazy!’

His eyes were bloodshot but I didn’t notice. I was busy ploughing my mind for deep and potent insults. I found them and delivered them.  Partially satisfied, I stormed back into the house, flinging a few more profanities over my shoulders for good measure.

Imagine my Uncle’s shock when I stormed into the house shouting ‘bastard!’

‘What?! Come here. What happened?’

I ignored him and marched up the stairs and into my room, slamming the door behind me.

A few minutes later my brother’s head poked round the door.

‘You’re in trouble,’ he sang, grinning from ear to ear.

Like I didn’t already know that.

‘MEE, come here now!’ As soon as I heard my mother’s voice, I readied myself for battle.

‘Is Effiong your mate? Who gave you the right to insult my staff?!’

‘Mummy, he started it! I went to tell him Uncle P was calling him and he started insulting me!’

‘I don’t care what he said to you. Under no circumstance should you be rude to your elders! How dare you use foul language in my house?!’

‘He called me a bitch!’

‘Apologise to him.’

Never.

‘I’m sorry mummy, I can’t. He’s the one who owes me an apology.’

She looked stunned.

‘Is it me you’re talking to?! Apologise to him and don’t make me do something I will regret.’

Silence.

‘Needless to say, I received a sound beating, at the end of which I still refused to apologise. My Uncle P had to take me out for a drive to give everyone time to calm down…like he wasn’t the cause of the drama.

Two hours later I walked into the house and instead of going up to my room, curled up on the floor in a corner of the sitting room.

‘What are you doing there?’ my mother asked.

‘Sleeping.’

‘Don’t you have a room? Get up from that floor.’

‘I now know my place in this house. Since the house boy is more important than me, please leave me let me sleep on the floor like the slave that I am.’

She looked ready to take my life. I wasn’t ready to give it.

I got up and went to my room.

It didn’t end there though. Watch this space!

Hello People!

Bonsoir mes amies!

No, I don’t speak french but I wish I did.

It’s been a few days since I last posted anything but it’s not for lack of inspiration. I’ve been so busy I haven’t seen myself in the last few weeks. I’ve been good busy though so I can’t complain.

Not that you care but on a random note, I’ve lost my voice and it’s driving me crazy. I sound like a battered car engine…very unsexy. I pray it comes back before Wednesday ’cause I need it then.

I have loads of interesting (I think) stories to tell you. Hang in there, Waila is typing away!

x

Waila Caan

Times & Seasons: A Time to Let Go

I’m a murderer, but not of human beings.

When I discover something new, I consume it till there’s nothing left of it but its bones…and even those, I crush to powder. I discover a meal I like and I eat it every day till my stomach and taste buds revolt. I discover a song and I listen to it day in, day out, till the sound of the opening bars induces a migraine. Only then is it time to move on to another.

I once found the perfect pair of jeans; my favourite pair of all time. I forsook all others and committed to a monogamous relationship with this flared indigo beauty. I wore it. And wore it. And wore it till the colour in the region between my thighs began to fade. After the fading, came the thinning, and then the holes. Whenever I sat down in public, I had to keep my thighs firmly shut. That should have told me it was time to let go.

Never. MEE and you for life baby!

At the time I was a bit of a retro babe so I decided the holes were all part of being retro chic. I dug out a razor blade and tore holes in the knee regions.

If we’re going to do ripped, let’s rip it to the max!

And so I roamed the streets of Colchester in this pair of jeans fit only for the mentally inept. Truth be told, I loved it. I had one of those long metal key chains and I’d attach one end to a fore pocket and the other to a rear pocket. Throw in my yellow ‘Chucks’ and I felt too cool for school.

One day I found myself in a room full of my friends, playing silly games…as you do when you are students with no work and plenty of time. Caught up in the fun and games, I forgot to sit in a manner compatible with my battered jeans. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted one of my male friends laughing his head off. At first we all ignored him but after a while, it got a little weird.

‘Dude, what’s cracking you up?’ someone asked him.

Still laughing, he pointed at me and said, ‘Mehn MEE, how far with these your jeans?!’

I looked down and lo and behold, a new hole had appeared in the erm, central region. I’d say a good 30% of my underwear was on show.

I was still trying to figure out how to deal with the embarrassment when someone squealed, ‘ooh, I have that pant too!’

‘Shut up jo, who asked you?!?!’

As soon as I snapped, the entire room erupted in laughter.

It was either laugh or die on the spot. I chose laughter.

I wish I could tell you I never wore that pair of jeans again but…

The Voice In My Head

My conscience has a voice and its voice is getting louder.

For those of you that know me well, sharrap (shut up) is my answer to everything.

‘How are you?’ Sharrap.

‘Where have you been?’ Sharrap.

‘I’ve missed you.’ Sharrap.

It’s not an attempt to offend or be rude. Believe it or not, it’s an affectionate term in my personal vocabulary. Yep, I’m weird like that. The people I do it to know I’m clowning around but even then, a well said sharrap hits the spot and joke or not, it can sting like a bee. You cannot begin to understand how shocked I was when I erm, affectionately told a friend to sharrap the other day AND felt bad!

This conscience of mine is really shaking things up.

On the one hand the crescendo of its voice is a good thing because it means my moral compass (whatever that means) is still functioning. If no one else will help me differentiate between right and wrong, my conscience will. I’ll become a better person for it.

On the other hand, it’s driving me crazy!

The other day I walked into a H&M store and was bargain hunting in the sale section. I spotted a top that had been taken off its hanger and tossed over the rack.

‘Hang the top back on the rail.’

That wasn’t too hard to do. I did it.

A few yards ahead, I spotted a couple of dresses that had found their way from the rack to the floor.

‘Go on, be nice. Pick them up.’

‘Okay, but only this once! You don’t really expect me to go round shops picking up after people do you?! Besides the fact that I might make someone redundant, I’m there to shop not work.’

I picked up the dresses, hung them up and carried on bargain hunting. In the far corner of the shop I spotted another rack with a massive sale banner hanging over it. Excited, I headed towards the rack. I was all of five steps away from it when I spotted a heap of clothes on the floor.

‘Don’t even think about it!,’ I screamed at the voice.

It ignored me…blatantly too.  ‘It won’t take anything for you to pick…’

Before it could finish, I turned around and headed out of the store.

‘You won’t let me shop in peace ehn? It’s okay, I’m not shopping again! Aargh!!!’

As I walked out of the shop, I heard it laugh. I wasn’t amused. Irritated I left the mall. It wasn’t till I got home that I understood why it was laughing.

I’d gone ‘shopping’ and returned home with zero shopping bags.

‘Aaah! Ain’t you a clever one?!’

Genius mate, genius!

Fat Waila Turned Skinny…but that was a Long Time Ago.

The other day I was watching ANTM and almost had an aneurysm when  a British size 12 was referred to as plus size. What alarmed me most was that at a British 10, I’m only a few inches away from being plus size, if Tyra be believed. Actually, I can bet my lungs (and they are very precious to me) that if I went on the show, I’d be flung, without question, in the plus size camp.

WHATEVER TYRA!

The definition of fat is subjective but regardless of your personal benchmark for measuring fat, I’m convinced that the average human being does not want to be regarded as fat. Don’t even try and deny it, I’m not listening!

It’s stupendously easy to gain weight. The worst thing about it is you don’t really realise when it’s happening and when you eventually do, your mind decides denial is the way forward.

‘It’s not that bad.’

Yeah right!

On the day of reckoning, when your mind can fool you no longer, you wake up and it hits you like a ton of bricks. YOU ARE OFFICIALLY FAT!

 I’ve been there.

Once upon a time, I discovered KFC. Colonel’s Meal. £1.99. £2.09 if you throw in a pot of barbeque sauce . It was love at first taste. I ate it (and a few donuts here and there) every day for the best part of a year and slowly but surely, my cheeks started to inflate.

‘See your cheeks!’ my mother would exclaim.

‘Whatever,’ I’d relpy, ‘it’s evidence of good living!’

‘See your ikebe!’

‘Yeah yeah. Like big booties don’t run in the family.’

My brothers started calling me Fatima. I wasn’t amused. Not in the slightest. I ignored them though. It was just something else to add to their long list of  ‘Ways to Wind MEE Up.’

The day of reckoning came one morning when I was getting ready to go to my A-Level Statistics class. I had a pair of size 14 jeans my mum had insisted on buying me months before. Apparently I would ‘grow into it.’ 

Yah. If you say so mummy. *rolls eyes*

That fateful morning, for reasons I cannot remember, I decided to try it on.

I put one leg in and then the other. I pulled it up. It wouldn’t go past my hips.

Did I wash these jeans? How come they’ve shrunk?

I tugged and tugged and finally, the waistband aligned itself with my waist. I couldn’t button it though. There was no amount of tummy sucking that would make the button and button hole meet.

‘Mummy o, enemy of lepa. There is power in the tongue!!!’

I yanked it off, donned my tracks and a t-shirt and headed straight to the gym to sign up. I went to that gym seven days a week. Twice a day if I could manage it. One day one of the trainers called me to a meeting room.

‘We’ve noticed you’re in the gym for long periods everyday. Twice a day sometimes. You need to slow down or you’ll hurt yourself.’

I looked at his six pack and toned arms and thighs.

HISS. I returned to the treadmill.

Three months later I tried on that pair of jeans again. I buttoned it and watched it slide down my hips, forming a pool of denim at my feet.

‘Now that’s what I’m talking about!’

xxx

MEE

The Problem With Stealing

Mother dearest was posted to Abuja, the capital city of Nigeria just as I became a senior in secondary school and I was left with my Aunt in the house in Lagos. I was only home from school during the holidays so it wasn’t too bad. Truth be told, I loved it. Fun and games all the way!

There was a wardrobe in my mother’s bedroom that always spoke to my soul.

‘Open me!’ it would cry out.

 I never could resist it. In it lay an assortment of treasures; bottles of perfume, gold earrings, bracelets, watches, money et al. After losing quite a few of my mother’s earrings, she banned me from touching her jewellery. I don’t blame her. Had I stopped to consider how much money I was throwing away, I would have banned me too.

Ban or no ban, I needed to glam myself up. I took to unlawfully helping myself to the contents of her wardrobe. There was no point asking her permission. When God told her that her yes must be yes and her no, no, she listened well. I always returned her jewellery though so she never knew the difference.

The one thing I couldn’t return was her money.

One half term holiday I was home in Lagos and bored out of my head. I decided to stock up on some novels. At the time, I could go through three in a day so I needed a sizeable stash. There was only one problem…I had no money.

I visited the talking wardrobe to see what I could find. Opening it, the first thing I saw was a bundle of 50Naira notes. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. I pulled out a few notes to buy some books and then pulled out a few more for munchies. What’s a good book without a few tins of Pringles and cartons of Berry Blast?!

Just as I was leaving the house, the phone rang. It was my friend Tee, the cause of many of my problems as a teenager. I loved her plenty but she had a way of always getting me in trouble. There was a party that night and apparently, it was going to be ‘tew mad!’ Only problem was we didn’t have any way of getting there. We decided to hire a car for four hours and split the cost.

Back to the wardrobe I went to pull out a few more notes.

The party was a blast! We rocked till our feet ached and our sweat glands dried up. Satisfied, we called it a night. Our four hours had expired anyway.

A couple of days later, it was time to head back to school and I needed pocket money and provisions. I called my mother in Abuja to find out what the plan was.

‘Oh yes,’ she said, ‘I left some money for you in that wardrobe. If you open it, there’s a bundle of 50Naira notes on the middle shelf. Use it to buy what you need. I’ll bring you your pocket money when I come and see you next week.’

The next time I thought about stealing from that wardrobe,  I didn’t.