I’m On My Knees

In all the years I’ve lived on this earth, I’ve never said ‘good morning’ to my mother. If I ever do I think she will die of shock. To my mother’s despair, the only language my brothers and I speak (fluently) is English. I can’t construct a sentence in Benin (paternal language) and all I can do in Urhobo (mother’s language) is greet and beg for keys and money. I’ll explain. As a teenager, in an attempt to frustrate me (why else would she do it) my mother would often demand that if I wanted something from her, I had to ask in Urhobo. The two things I always wanted were the keys to her room and money so I learnt to ask for both.

I’m not sure if it’s a Nigerian thing or if it’s specific to certain cultures but saying ‘good morning’ to an Urhobo person is like spitting in their faces. Sometimes I meet a friend of my mothers’ and unsure of their ethnicity, politely say, ‘good morning.’ If their eyes and nostrils widen, you know they are Urhobo. One of the first words to ever proceed from my mouth was degwo. It’s how you greet in Urhobo. It’s still one of the only words I know in the language but I thank the good lord that it’s as versatile as the oil its land produces. Degwo will get you very far. My friends Stinkus and CrawCraw are constantly ribbing me about this so you have them to blame for this Urhobo lesson.

Degwo  means ‘I am on my knees’ and the response ‘Boma do’ means ‘stand up.’ Unlike other languages that literally translate the words, good morning, degwo is symbolic. When you greet an elder, you are expected to kneel as a sign of respect. Like my mother says, what’s the point of saying ‘I’m on my knees’ if you’re standing straight as a ruler?! Personally, I think the ground is too far from my knees for them to meet so I tend to curtsey. It drives my mother crazy.

“My friend, your knees are not touching the ground!”

I ignore her and we end up fighting. She thinks I’m rude, I think she’s ancient. She shouts, I space out. When I remember she’s my mother, I apologise and we let it go…till the next time.

Degwo can mean, good morning, afternoon or evening. It can also mean thank-you. It can mean whatever kneeling could signify. So Stinkus and CrawCraw, you have been educated. The next time I hear any jokes about this I will knock your heads together…AND I MEAN IT!

So tell me, how do you say good morning in your language and where are you from? Do you have to kneel or can you get away with sitting and greeting?

 xXx

Waila

Random Thoughts Circulating My Brain

Have you ever eaten half cooked jollof rice out of a mug? It’s amazing I tell you! When I cook jollof rice, I have a habit of eating it while it’s still cooking. Once it’s fully cooked, I lose interest in it. The other day I was standing by my hob eating half cooked rice from the pot when I looked up and spotted a mug I almost never use. Without thinking, I reached for it and filled it with rice. Jollof rice has never tasted better. If you don’t believe me, try it.

Spitting. If you’re going to spit, make sure it’s in a sink and I cannot see you. I HATE IT WHEN PEOPLE SPIT ON THE STREETS. It is the single most disgusting thing ever. I cannot stand it. It is rude, vile and revolting. This morning as I was walking to my local train station a guy walking towards me spat on the side walk, the same stretch of side walk I was about to walk on. I had to cross the street. Disgusting I tell you, DISGUSTING!

Khloe and Lamar. I’m not a fan of reality TV but I love watching Khloe and Lamar on E! They make me want to fall in love. They are so cute together and what they have seems genuine. It’s a little bizarre marrying someone three months into a relationship but hey, why hang about if you know what you want?! Fingers crossed they’ll stay married as long as they’re both alive but it’s Hollywood, you can’t put your faith in anything that land produces.

Carrie Grant. Carrie Grant of David and Carrie Grant of Fame Academy of The One Show of Vocal Coaches to British Pop Stars. I heard and watched Carrie preach a sermon at my second church (don’t ask) on Sunday and I fell in love with her. I can’t remember the last time I heard a sermon that was so inspiring, real and unreligious. She talked about grace and loving unconditionally and it was awesome. The next time you see her on TV, know that she’s not just a pretty face. Sadly, the sermon isn’t on the church’s website but watch out, I’ll be posting a blog on it on Waila Waits.  

My sofa cover. The thing has been begging to be washed for the last year. Once upon a time it was red but now it’s red, brown and black with splashes of white here and there. I keep saying I’ll strip the cover and take it to the dry cleaners but I haven’t gotten round to it. It’s gotten so bad that I now put a throw over it when I have people coming over. The thing is an embarrassment. Maybe I should just go to Ikea and buy a new cover. That way I’ll save myself the hassle of washing the something and perhaps I can get a different colour to give the flat a makeover of sorts. I wonder how long it will take me to drag my lazy self to Ikea. I’ll keep you posted.

My birthday is less than a month away! I’m not sure why I’m excited seeing as I never celebrate the day. I’m too lazy to plan anything and my friends have given up on trying to excite me. I’m one of the least excitable people on this planet. I really must change. Anyway, I’d like presents this year. There are MANY things I want so please look out for my birthday wish list. Be generous.  The good lord will reward your generosity!

xXx

Waila

Tales From The Underground: A Sneak Peek of My Thoughts This Morning

I’m on the Northern Line sitting next to a school boy noisily feasting on a boiled egg. The yolk crumbles and drops all over his shirt and boy sets about rescuing the fallen crumbs and popping them in his mouth…in public. I feel the bile rising in my throat.

Across from me a man and woman (strangers to each other) are playing ‘let’s see who can eat more skin off their finger’. Since I got on this train, they haven’t removed their fingers from their mouths. There is an increasingly pungent smell of saliva in the carriage. Saliva and egg, I must recommend the combination to Lady Gaga for her next fragrance.

Standing in front of me is a man and his ‘cute’ dog. You guys know I don’t do dogs.  I can’t relax. The dog keeps skirting around my left boot and it’s taking everything in me not to scream . The thing keeps shaking and I’m grateful I can’t see the germs travelling from its hairs and into the atmosphere. Where is this man taking his pooch to at this time of the morning anyway?!

A couple to my right won’t stop kissing. I think they are trying to beat a record. If I hear the sound of their lips smacking one more time, I just might smack them. Get a room you two!!!

The woman with the finger in her mouth just took it out and wiped it on her seat. I think I’m going to puke. I worry about the person who’s going to sit there next. *shudder* When did I become this germ conscious?!

There’s a really pretty school girl now blocking my view of the finger woman. The girl is stunning. She looks like she’s on the set of a schoolgirl themed photo shoot. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a school kid look this neat. They usually look like they rolled out of bed and dug out their uniforms from a heap of trash. Her uniform is perfectly ironed, tights look fresh and her brogues are really cool…patent black with perspex panels on the sides. This how my daughter must look every morning or else!

I just sneezed. A really big sneeze. There’s snot all over my left palm and I think I’m going to die of embarrassment. The minute it takes me to dig out my packet of tissues feel like a day. I wipe my nose and hands as discreetly as possible. I’m so embarrassed I spend the rest of the journey staring at my feet. Where is my hand sanitiser?!  Snap, I left it on my desk at work. Oh well, everyone else is spreading germs on this train, can’t accuse me of not doing my bit.

Bon vendredi mes amies!

That’s happy Friday to those of you that can’t speak any French. *flicks hair*

xXx

Waila

WEDLOCK OF THE GODS

 

Last night I went to see the play ‘Wedlock of The Gods’ at the Cochrane theatre. It’s a play by Zulu Sofola who is Africa’s first female playwright. Up until my friend Debbie (hi Debs!) turned up at mine on Saturday with a promo flyer, I’d never heard of Zulu Sofola. The plot seemed interesting and I was curious about this Zulu Sofola person so last night I dragged my dear friend VeeVee to the show. If you live in London or are passing through this week, YOU HAVE TO GO SEE IT! I’ve copied in the synopsis from the Cochrane website for those of you that can’t be bothered to Google it.

“Wedlock of the Gods is a tragic drama that has its roots in the ritual of death and mourning.

A young girl is given away in marriage to a man whom she neither knows nor loves. Her parents are in desperate need of the dowry money to cure her sick brother. When the new husband dies unexpectedly events take on a new twist. Following in the custom of leviration the young girl is expected to mourn for three months and then marry her dead husband’s brother.

The young girl, exasperated, rebels in the face of age old custom and tradition. What would be the consequences of such a defiant act of rebellion?”

The play is directed by Wale Ojo and features a cast of seasoned ‘Afro-Brit’ actors such as Ben Onwukwe (The Bill, London’s Burning), Chucky Venn (The Dark Knight, Borne Ultimatum), Maynard Eziashi (Mr Johnson, Ace Ventura, The Contract), Olufunke Adeleke, Moji Sorunke Bamtefa, Melanie Liburd, Golda John, Yetunde Oduwole, Reginald Ofodile and Wale Ojo.

The cast were brilliantly hilarious as was the dialogue. I know, I know, I’m always going on about dialogue but seriously I’m fascinated by the stuff. It’s so so difficult to keep dialogue spunky, fresh and captivating but Sofola did a good job of it. Admittedly, the story is one that’s been told many times before and it has Romeo and Juliet written all over it but for me that didn’t really matter A good production is a good production is a good production.

Tickets are £20 for adults but there are concession tickets at £10 for you students and senior citizens.

http://www.cochranetheatre.co.uk/66141.htm

The show is only on till Saturday the 28th of May, 2011 (this Saturday) so get your skates on if you’re interested!

xXx

Waila

My Problem With Aso Ebi

My sister from another mother, Tomato, got married the day after the royal wedding (whoop whoop) and I had an AMAZING time at the wedding. I couldn’t stop smiling the whole day and for someone who isn’t a fan of weddings, that’s a big deal. I danced so much Jillian Michaels my dvd personal trainer will be proud. In the 5 hours I spent on the dance floor, I did things with my thighs and arms that she’s been (unsuccessfully) trying to get me to do for weeks. Congratulations to my Tomato and her Tomato. God bless you plenty!

Fun and beautiful though the wedding was, I was once again reminded of the benefits of eloping or sneaking off to your local registrar to do the deed. The expense, the stress, the expense, the stress, the expense…I’m eloping! The thought of spending a significant amount of money on a wedding when I’m renting a flat, paying a mortgage or have little money in the bank accelerates my heart beat. I’d much rather my husband to be and I were given the money to start our life together. Plus I don’t do stress at all. Both my objections could easily be eroded by copious amounts of money though so unless I marry an insanely rich man or hit the jackpot before my wedding, my position stands.

Now to the crux of the matter, aso ebi.

I recently bought a sewing machine as I’ve decided to start making my own clothes. I was going through my closet trying to find fabric to practice with and you will not believe how much wedding aso ebi I found. I immediately stopped feeling bad for all the times I’ve said “no thank you” to friends trying to sell me aso ebi for their weddings. In the last two year, I’ve adopted a zero tolerance policy to the tradition. I love my friends and want to support them on their big day but surely, there are other ways to show my love and support?! Two things led to the abolishment of aso ebi purchasing.

The first is that I almost never have my clothes made. The stress of finding a tailor in London is more than I’m prepared to endure and when you do find a tailor they charge you first class rates for an economy class service. A friend of mine got a dress made for a wedding with a tailor who charged her £60 for the service. You should have seen the dress…ill fitting, poorly finished, tacky trimmings…it was horrid. I wouldn’t have accepted it if it was offered to me free of charge. I have no problem paying that kind of money and more for a dress but the dress has to be worth every penny.

The second reason is that many brides-to-be take leave of their reasoning when it comes to all things wedding. How else will you explain someone selling her wedding aso ebi for £50?! Last year I got an email from a friend who was getting married in Nigeria. Her aso ebi was selling for N20,000…that’s £80. While I was in Nigeria over christmas someone had aso ebi delivered to my mum for her daughter’s wedding. When I opened the note that accompanied the package, I almost died. N100,000! I chased the driver who delivered the aso and told him to return it to his madam and tell her my mother wasn’t home. Madness, utter madness.

To all my yet to be married friends, now that I’m learning how to sew, I may well start buying aso ebi again but if you attempt to tax me for the privilege of being your friend, I will wear jeans to your wedding.

xXx

Waila

Ramsey Street In London

Ladies and gentlemen, Ramsey Street has come to London and parked itself on what used to be my street. With each passing day, my neighbours are becoming nosier and it’s getting under my skin. My landlord spends all his time these days sending out emails to everyone in my building and the emails always include the words neighbour and complain.

The first time a neighbour complained, it was because a ‘to let’ sign had been sitting outside our building for “too long” and was “tarnishing the image of the street.”

The second time a neighbour complained it was because there was a chipped tile on the path leading to our main door and dear neighbour thought it was a safety hazard that needed to be urgently addressed. You need to know my house and have seen the tile in question to understand how silly that complaint was. That pathway is only used by our property and the chip in the tile was so tiny, another tenant and I had to get down on our hands and knees to see it!

The third time a neighbour complained, it was because she thought there were too many Sky dishes attached to our roof and it made our building “look hideous.”

After that complaint, I stopped reading emails from my landlord. Group emails from him always mean there’s a problem. My policy is that if the matter involves me, he will call (which he does). I mean, what is my neighbours business with how many sky dishes are on our building and if Mr Landlord didn’t want that, surely he would have put up a communal dish on the property, no?!

Yesterday I got an email from him that I should have ignored but the first sentence caught my eye and I was too stupefied to hit delete.

“I received a complaint that the green bin is being used for normal rubbish by the neighbours.”

Why on earth was a neighbour going through our bin?!?!?! 

Landlord’s phrasing was a bit dodgy but what he meant was that he received a complaint from the neighbours that our green bin is being used for normal rubbish. For those of you unfamiliar with English rubbish etiquette (excuse the pun), green bins are for compost and biodegradable waste and not domestic waste. Yes, there is the possibility that my landlord could be fined by the council (after official warnings) because they feign concern about environmental issues but that was beside the point. I couldn’t get over the fact that some nosy neighbour had been spying on our green bin! What kind of loser behaviour is that?! They gave a detailed description of the contents of the bin which means they not only opened it, they rummaged through it. I can’t, can’t, CAN’T get over it.

I chope our bins are all they go through because if I ever get burgled again, I am so blaming them! Clearly they see all so if they can’t tell me who robbed me, I’ll have to assume they are guilty!

Rant over. Thanks for indulging me.

xXx

Waila

Tales From The Underground: My Igbo Sister

Hey guys!

You guessed it, life’s been very busy and it’s going to get busier and stay so till the end of June. Forgive me in advance for my few and far between posts to come. I will try and keep up with blogosphere in that period but I can’t make any promises.

I love capturing moments, but seeing as I’m hopeless with a camera, I use words instead.

Yesterday on my way into work a woman with the loudest and highest pitched voice I’ve ever heard was having a heated conversation on her phone…in igbo. The entire carriage was staring at her in disapproval. At 7.30am my fellow commuters do not like noise. The dialogue was one sided and I felt sorry for the person receiving the tongue lashing on the other end of the phone. The woman was too busy ranting to notice when the train went underground at East Finchley. The train was well into the tunnel and she was still going full throttle. It was the funniest thing. Eventually another passenger who had had enough tapped her on the shoulder and said, “Excuse me, are you sure the other person is still on the phone? You’re in a tunnel so there’s no signal. You’ll have to carry on your conversation later.” In other words, “my friend shut up and stop making noise!”

The sarcasm was lost on my Igbo sister. She just laughed and said in her deliciously Igbo accent, “Oh okay!  Taink you my sister, I deedint knew!” She was clearly oblivious to the offence she was causing on the train.

My initial irritation disappeared and I fell in instant like with her. Her oblivion and innocence endeared her to me in a way that our shared Nationality failed to. She carried on entertaining me till I got off the train.

A pregnant woman boarded the train at Camden and my sister was sat in a priority seat.

“Excuse me, I’m pregnant and I need a seat. Do you mind?”

“Yes o, I mind. No be only you carry belle, me sef I’m pregnant.”

She moved her bag to fully reveal her slightly rounded stomach.

“Oh, I’m sorry! I saw it but I wasn’t sure. I thought it might be…”

I almost died trying to swallow my laughter. You thought it might be what?! Fortunately for her, the insult went right over my sister’s head.  My sister proceeded to tap the woman sitting next to her and said, “I beg you please stand up for this woman to sit. To carry belle no easy!”

I stopped trying to pretend I wasn’t laughing. My sister looked at me and grinned excitedly.

“You be Naija?!”

I smiled at her and nodded.

“Ehen! The way you just dey laugh, I know say you are understanding me.”

The woman was still belting out every word at ear drum bursting volumes and lightening speed.  Before I got a chance to respond to her earlier comment she began reporting her friend who she’d been shouting at earlier.

“No mind one my useless friend! She…”

From what I could decipher from her million words per second report, she sent the friend to buy her stuff from America and the friend returned with no goods and no money.

“Is it good what she has done?”

I shook my head.

“No be so person suppose behave. Is a bad tin that she do me and na God go punish am!”

I laughed, shook my head and nodded at intervals. The only word I managed to get in was ‘goodbye’ as I was stepping off the train.

You’ve got to love my people!

xXx

Waila

The One That Got Away

My friend Skittles is in his thirties and looking forward to settling down and starting a family. He is good looking, successful, spiritual, charming, intelligent, funny…he has a lot going for him. Yet in spite of the legion of girls tugging on his heartstrings, he is having a hard time committing to anyone.  After listening to his tales of woe, it soon became apparent why.  Like many people I know he suffers from what I call the-one-that-got-away syndrome.

A few years ago he met the girl of his dreams. She was everything he wanted in a woman and they dated for a year. As with every relationship, they had trying times and for reasons I cannot disclose, they split up. It’s been two years since the relationship ended and he has spent every minute since, wishing he could turn back the hands of time. Unfortunately for him, the girl in question is now engaged and getting married at the end of this year. He is happy for her and has reconciled himself to the reality that there’s no going back for them. The problem though is that she has become the standard by which he judges every girl he meets. It’s not something he does consciously or wants to do but it is what it is. I have nothing against having standards and preferences but when those standards are inextricably linked to another human being, it’s a recipe for disaster. No two people are exactly alike, not even Siamese twins. To expect another human being to replicate his ex-girlfriends idiosyncrasies is irrational…and he knows it. He is addicted to his memories of her and those memories have been altered by time.  When they were together, they had some important irreconcilable differences that brought the relationship to its knees yet his memories of those trials have become romantic, the hurt and the pain washed away with the tide of time.

He recently met a girl he really likes and the reason he called me was to tell me about her. His latest love interest couldn’t be better suited to him if he created her himself.  He sang her praises and highlighted all the reasons why he believes she might be the one but when I asked what he’s waiting for he couldn’t give me an answer that made any sense. Exasperated, I asked him what more he was looking for and he responded, “It’s just not the same with her.”

I didn’t know what to say to him because everything I had to say, he knows already. I feel especially sorry for him because I’ve been there before.  It took a while but I laid the ghost of the-one-that-got-away to rest for my own sanity. It’s amazing how much perspective you gain when your head and heart finally exit dreamland. There are always reasons why relationships don’t work out and instead of living in regret and building castles in the sky, it’s a lot more useful to make a note of the things that went wrong and learn from them so that you don’t make the same mistakes when the next person comes into your life. No two people are the same and it’s important that you appreciate a person for who they are and embrace them as such. Placing an ex on a pedestal may well be a sign that there are still emotional ties you need to severe before you get into a new relationship.

He wanted my advice and I gave it to him. I told him that until he is ready to let go of his past and embrace his future, he should do his new love interest (and himself ) a favour and stay away from her. No will ever measure up to his illusion of perfection and till he is ready to shatter the dream, he needs to stay single. Ultimately, he will do whatever he chooses to and I can only hope things work out for him but he asked for my opinion and I gave it.

What do you guys think? Is he still pining for his ex or is the new girl just not the one?

xXx

Waila

Somebody Call The RSPCA

After reading this post, some of you may never view me in the same light again. In my defence, I was  only nine years old, don’t judge me too harshly! ☺

*************************************

I don’t like dogs. Scrap that, I HATE dogs. They scare the crap out of me and I just cannot understand how people live with them. It’s not just dogs, it’s animals in general but dogs and I have a history. When I was growing up my family owned three dogs. Two of them were what we called local dogs. Local or foreign, we didn’t get along. When I was in primary school, the driver would have to carry me to the car in the mornings because I was too scared to walk. Our dogs didn’t have cages, leashes or anything remotely fancy. They roamed the compound freely and ate eba.

There were two in particular that scared the life out of me…Wazobia and Bingo. Bingo was young and very active but when I shooed him, he usually went away. Wazobia on the other hand was a tyrant. The dog just wouldn’t leave me alone. If I went out through the front door, she was there waiting for me. If I went out through the back, she was there.

One day my mum asked me to take the bin out and as I opened the back door, she was there, tongue hanging out ready to apply moisture to my skin to make for easier biting. I had the bin in one hand and a kettle full of hot water in the other, to rinse out the bin with.

“Shoo Wazobia , shoo!”

She didn’t respond.

 “Take that bin out for goodness sake,” my mother shouted at me, “it stinks! You’ve lived with that dog for nine years now, what are you still afraid of?”

“Shoo Wazobia , shoo!”

As I shooed, I dared to step outside. One step, two steps, three steps. She stayed put. Convinced all as well, I walked more confidently. Four. Five. Six, Seven. Eight.  Suddenly I heard a bark and saw Wazobia bounding towards me.

“No Wazobia, no!”

I flung the bin and started sprinting back to the house. “No run!” the maid screamed, “if you run, she go chase you!’

Na you sabi!

 I carried on running but saw that she was getting to close for my liking. I freaked out and before I could process what I was about to do, chucked the kettle full of hot water at Wazobia. I’ve never heard a dog howl so loud.

‘How can you pour hot water on a dog?!’ my mother screamed in horror.

I received a good beating for my actions.  Thankfully, animals in Nigeria do not have rights unlike their counterparts in the West so there was no RSPCA to convict me of my crime. That said, anyone with half a heart would know have felt for the poor dog…and I did. They did what they could for Wazobia but the damage was done, she had a large bald grey patch on her back. She became really timid after that and never bothered me again.

I know I’m supposed to be politically correct but I can’t lie, I was happy when the dog stopped harassing me. I felt and still feel bad and wish they had just sold the damn dog while they could. Perhaps I ought to be reported to the RSPCA. All I ask is that you give me a heads up before you do so I can run back to Nigeria!