If You’re Suffering, Move to Ghana

London Underground; my lover, companion, friend and most bitter enemy, I miss you. I miss my Finchley Central Station. I miss my friend in the phone shop on the corner of Hervey Close. I miss the Nigerian guy at the station who made it his business to ask why I was running late for work, when I was running late for work. I miss battling the temptation to enter Tesco every time I walk past it. This is what marriage does to people; it makes them move…and miss things!

My new locale isn’t nearly as interesting as Finchley. I haven’t made any shopkeeper friends because there aren’t a lot of shops separating me from the train station. I haven’t made any commuter friends because they don’t look as friendly and the train ride isn’t as interesting because it’s full of married commuters who are by definition, boring. Unlike me, of course.

I only have the pleasure or journeying one stop on the Underground and yesterday, in the time it took for me to get from Moorgate to Bank, I struck gold.

ghana

Two young gentlemen were having a conversation that I couldn’t help over hearing.

“So what are you doing these days bruv?”

“I work in a call centre innit, customer services.”

“Cool cool, I’m still in retail but I’m like a supervisor now.”

“Yeah? Sweet!”

“It’s aight, pays the bills, you get me?”

“Yeah bruv, I know the feeling. I’m so sick of this life. You know, I’ve been thinking of moving to Ghana but I’m too westernised for that shit.”

”You think Ghana’s better than London?”

“You know Kwabena we went to school with yeah, he moved like two years ago and he’s living the life!”

“For real, what’s he doing out there?”

“I’m not sure you know, he’s making bare bucks though. I might just move out there man, I need the good life.”

“You been Ghana before?”

“Yeah yeah, went last year, first time and it was live. They treat you like royalty bruv. You have maids and shit that do everything for you.”

“Seriously?!”

“Trust me bruv, if you want to live the good life, pack your shit and move to Ghana. Africa’s the place to be man. I wanna do it man, I wanna do it bad but I think I’m too westernised for that shit.”

In those two minutes, I struck gold. I too am tired of the life I’m living. Waking up early, going to work, paying bills AND council tax (because you know council tax is not a bill, it is THE bill)…and not being able to afford ordinary Louboutin Pigalles. I don’t like pointy shoes but that’s besides the point. If I cannot buy myself a pair of Pigalles while living the London life, there is only one solution.

I am moving to Ghana… I’m not too westernised for that ‘shit’.

XxX

Waila

Waila Reads: Americanah by Chimamanda Adichie

americanahA few years ago I heard Chimamanda Adichie speak and something about the way she came across didn’t appeal to me. Over the years I’ve watched interviews she has given and heard her speak at literary events. While I respected her success, there was something about her demeanour I wasn’t a fan of. I concluded we weren’t destined to be friends…until I watched her Channel 4 interview with Jon Snow. Chimamanda, we can now grab a coffee when you’ve got a minute. Now that’s we’re friends, I am of course allowed to call her Chimamanda, just Chimamanda. Experience, training or perhaps both have awarded her a degree of charm and grace that in my probably irrelevant opinion, she previously hadn’t mastered. I like her new aura and I like it a lot.

Her second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, won the Orange Prize but despite several attempts, I haven’t managed to read the entire book. Hard though I’ve tried, I can’t connect with the writing and characters and that makes it a tedious read. I’m in a minority though because it’s a best seller and most people I know who have read the book, sing its praises. I much preferred her initial offering, Purple Hibiscus. It’s not a Waila favourite but it is worth a read.

If you follow me on Instagram, you will know that my copy of her latest publication, Americanah, landed in my hands six days ago.

Americanah is without doubt, her best work yet. And I say that like I’ve read every word she’s ever written, which of course I haven’t but I quite like how it sound so I’ll say it again. Americanah is without doubt, her best work yet.

I was hooked from the first page and she had me reeled in till the very end. The central character Ifemelu is witty, sassy and charming in equal parts and on occasion, a little annoying. Obinze her love interest, sounds like a man I’d quite like to date. I know next to nothing about Chimamanda personally but I can’t help but think that Ifemelu’s character is a type and shadow of her creator. Americanah bravely attempts to tackle issues of race, identity, migration, prejudice, stereotypes, and love (and that’s not the half of it) and in my opinion, she did a brilliant job of it.

As always I won’t say too much because I’d quite like you to make up your own minds but what I will say is if you don’t own a copy, I suggest you get yourself one… it’s a Waila likes a lot. If you’d like to read a review before you commit your pennies, here’s a link to a brilliant one in The Guardian online.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/apr/15/americanah-chimamanda-ngozi-adichie-review

And no MrsOhgee, you can’t borrow mine.

xxx

Waila

A Memory Time Erased + Waila Reads: On Black Sisters’ Street

I was in Lagos a couple of weekends ago to marry off one of my lover girls, Shally of ForStyleSake. The detailing on her dress gave the analyst in me a lot to analyse. Goes without saying she looked stunning on her big day, what bride doesn’t?! Actually I take that back. I almost had a heart attack when I saw the wedding pictures of one the vendors my mother enlisted to plan my traditional wedding. To each their own but seeing her in her rather interesting bridal get up gave me reason to intensify my prayers. Thankfully, God is and was kind to me.

Much as I profess to be anti-weddings, I love watching my friends get married and I’d trek to the moon to see it happen. I’m amazed at how far we’ve all come in our lives, with or without men, and I’m pretty excited to see what the future has in store for us.

I digress.

Yes, Lagos. The city never ceases to amaze me. It’s a pretty cool place to live if you have enough money in the bank to create your own world but it can be scorchingly unkind to the poor and struggling. That said, it’s such a vibrant city, it’s easy to get caught up in its vibe.

I was in Lagos for all of 52 hours but it was long enough for me to run into a reality I had assumed was long dead. We were driving along the streets of Ikeja late Friday night hunting for food when I noticed a voluptuous girl in a miniscule white Lycra mini skirt striking a pose on the sidewalk. Her ample breasts were spilling out of her umpteen sizes too small top and her makeup was like something out of a how-not-to tutorial. It took a few minutes for my brain to register that she was a prostitute. I was stunned.

Growing up in Lagos and living pretty close to Bar Beach, spotting prostitutes was part of everyday life. I grew up knowing too well that they existed and on occasion, watched them get picked up by punters. Somehow, my brain had deluded itself into thinking such things didn’t happen in 2013.

In the age we live in, there are many sophisticated forms of prostitution but like my grandma says, “Pikin wey resemble goat no be goat, na pikin.” In other words, you are what you are regardless of how you choose to portray yourself. It’s no less heartbreaking to meet a girl who dates a man purely for financial gain but to see a woman standing on the street corner, body parts hanging out, desperately trying to attract the attention of every passing male, stripped it back to its most basic form. I really had forgotten that standing on the streets is still a viable option for some.

As I watched them sashay from car to car trying to reel in dinner, I couldn’t help but fear for their physical safety among other things. Absolutely anything could happen to those girls and the soles of their feet would be none the wiser. I slept uneasily that night.

Prostitutes exist because there is a demand for them.  If no one was willing to pay for sex, no one would be selling it. It’s that simple. Much as I worry about the women who sell their wares, I also worry about the punters who part with their cash. I call it the meeting of troubled souls.

People prostitute themselves for all sorts of reasons and contrary to popular belief not all prostitutes are women struggling to put food on their tables or a roof over their heads. Sometimes, it’s an act born of pure unadulterated greed. I’ve met a few. That said, I am weary of condemning such women because personally, I am yet to encounter circumstances, financial, mental, emotional or otherwise, that would make selling my body a viable option.

I earnestly pray that someday, somehow, these women find a way out.

Seeing those girls reminded me of a book I read a while back and leads me on to a Waila Reads recommendation.

black sister

On Black Sisters’ Street by Chika Unigwe isn’t a Waila favourite but it’s definitely worth a read. It tells the story of four young and rather naive women who make their way from Lagos to Belgium in the hope of raking in serious cash. It’s a story full of clichés but sadly, these clichés are born out of an embarrassingly stark reality.

I won’t say too much, I’ll let you read and make up your own minds. For the curious, I’ve included a link to a review by The Independent below.

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/on-black-sisters-street-by-chika-unigwe-1728899.html

I hope you enjoy reading but more than that, I hope that the next time you get on your knees to pray, if you pray, you remember to say a prayer for these women.

Love & so much more,

Waila

Mrs Waila Calling!!!

Hello People!

I know, I know, I disappeared on you. Forgive and forget? *puppy eyes*

The last six months of my life have been manic but thankfully things are winding down. You’ll be pleased (I hope) to know that I am now married and can reclaim my life from the clutches of wedding planning and the many darts…emotional, physical, spiritual, financial….it sends flying one’s way. Do I miss wedding planning? Heck no!

For the curious, I have a couple of pictures up on my Instagram account (WailaCaan) and will be sticking a few more up over the coming days (seeing as I have hundreds of them) so feel free to nosey on down there. For the non Instagramers, two pic stitches  for you right here. Photos are the work of our super photographer Iain Gomes who you’ll hear more about soon.

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So many stories to tell and some will be revealed in due course.

Those of you who blog will understand how hard it is to keep up with it. It really is a struggle to juggle blogging with my job and other things I’ve got going on in my life but I will keep trying and I will overcome the writer’s block that has been plaguing me…so help me God.

In other news, I deserve a handwritten note of gratitude from the CEO of IKEA, no jokes. I have spent so much of my humble earnings in that store my account is flat packed. On the plus side, I am now a dab hand at hammering and screwing so if any of you need a handyman, please see me in my workshop. I’d have volunteered the hubby but what he offers in physical strength, I more than make up for with my can-do-must-do-who-cares-what-time-it-is-will-do attitude.

On the day we moved house, I was working so the poor guy was left to haul all of our belongings without my help. By the time I got home, he’d done half a day at his day job, another half day carting bags and boxes and was in the middle of putting together a bed. By the time the bed was up, it was pretty late and he looked ready to keel over. Caring wife that I am, I fed him and then swiftly handed him a hammer to begin knocking together one of my wardrobes. You should have seen his face. He who marries a wife finds a good thing…what does he have to complain about?!

Lest I ramble on, I’ll stop now. This is just a quick note to say I’m still in the business of blogging and I am now certified by law to do married people things. Pure minds people, pure minds!

Stay tuned!

xxx

Waila

Why I Hate Wedding Receptions

Ladies and gentlemen,

I found this in my archives and cracked up at the irony. I’ll let you know how my own wedding reception (which I refuse to call a reception. LOL) goes when I get round to getting married.

I’m still very finicky about wedding receptions but since writing this eons ago, have discovered that some of them are out of this world fun. Just depends who’s getting married!

Must have just returned from a disastrous reception when I wrote it so read with a pinch of salt! Lol.

xxx

Waila

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Everyone around me is getting married and exciting though it is, I’m reminded of why I hate wedding receptions so much.  Yes, I am not a fan of weddings. Not unless it’s a destination wedding. I love travelling and have a long list of places I want to visit. If you really want me at your wedding, do the deed as far away as possible. You want to drastically slash numbers? Pah! Go as far away as possible, I’ll be right there waiting for you. You can’t slash me!

Anyway, back to the topic at hand; why I hate wedding receptions.

Guests arrive and wait a million years for the couple to turn up, all the while, slowly dying of starvation. The couple finally show up but before they can enter the venue, both sets of parents must spend at least 30mins dancing to their seats. Why they never do that while we’re sitting and waiting, I know not. Couple finally dance into the venue and this bit I must admit, can be fun. They take their seats and then some MC who rates himself quite highly on the comedy scale takes the mic and dulls the crap out of us. Just as your brain cells are beginning to dry up, the chairman of the occasions takes the stage. He collects all the drying cells, arranges them in a neat pile and crushes them with the soles of his feet. Only then do the gods feel sorry for you. The smell of jollof rice fills the air.

A hostess stops you as you attempt to rise up from your seat.

“We’re going table by table. Please wait till your table is called before approaching the serving points.”

Otherwise, you have to haul your behind up and stand in line to get served. By the time you get to the front of the buffet queue, all the good stuff’s gone. All you’re left with is a few grains of cold jollof rice, an anorexic chicken drumstick and a few squares of shrivelled up plantain.

You really should have gone to McDonalds before coming.

You’re so hungry you’re grateful for whatever is left and you wolf it down like a starving urchin.  Somewhere in the recesses of your mind, you register that the food is crap and you bank the knowledge for a day when you are well fed and gossiping with your girlfriends.

A couple of friends give mildly funny speeches and the bride’s sister balls her eyes out as she proclaims her love her irreplaceable sister. You’d think the poor bride was suffering from some sort of terminal illness. (No Imeme, I’m not talking to you. Muhaha).  Okay okay, I’ll be honest; speeches are one of the few things I like about wedding receptions, even the emotional ones. You need a few tears shed at a wedding to make the day that bit more poignant.

Just as I’m managing to convince myself that it’s not been such a bad reception, some strange aunty wheels out the wedding cake and annoys the crap out of me by insisting the bride has to kneel and feed her husband. Sure aunty, why not insist she spend the rest of her life crawling after the man?

The bride and groom take to the dance floor for their first dance and this bit is dicey. They have the power to either redeem my mood or send me plunging into the abyss of manic depression.

By the time the party starts, I’m so out of there. That’s if the bride and groom failed that pivotal test. If they succeeded, you’ll find me dancing off my sorrows… assuming Mr DJ doesn’t fall my hand!

Free Writing: Write About Your Feet

feet

You don’t want to see what my feet look like at the moment. All I can say is thank heaven it’s winter! Every day I tell myself I need to get rid of the chipped beyond chipped red nail varnish and trim my claws but do I do it? No. Action Waila, action!

On a good day I have quite pretty feet if I say so myself. I reckon I could be a shoe model, well if not for the corns on my two little toes; my reward for stuffing my feet in undersized shoes. It’s not my fault most stores in Blighty don’t do half sizes for those of us with abnormally sized feet. That aside, my feet look nice in shoes. I can pretty much wear anything and they’re guaranteed to look hot. I can think of other gifts I’d have preferred (long full hair, longer leaner legs…) but hey, beggars can’t be choosers.

Trips to Nigeria are my saving grace because they’re the only times I get pedicures. Those Nigerian nail salons sure know how to transform crusty feet. Call me stingy but I can think of better ways to spend £30. A bowl of designer stew from Lekki Kitchen, those animal print sandals on sale in Zara that I can’t seem to find anywhere, new nighties so my hubby to be never finds out he’s marrying a tramp…the list is endless.

Have I mentioned that the nails on my little toes are abnormal? They look nothing like nails. I inherited the strange looking things from my darling mother. Many years ago I thought it would be a good idea to rip out the entire nail on my little left toe. I was convinced it would grow back looking the way a nail should, just like some girls whose parents are thoroughbred Africans go natural thinking their hair will grow out looking like Corrine Bailey Rae’s.  Now now, I’m not hating on natural haired girls, I’d quite like to go natural myself. I’m just saying be under no illusions that your hair will grow out looking like your father married a white woman…or vice versa. The same way that relaxing your hair won’t make it look like Giselle Bundchen’s. How crazy is that woman’s body?!

I digress.

Yes, foolish me ripped off my little toe thinking it would grow back looking normal. The pain was out of this world and I bled like a ram at slaughter. Surprise surprise, the nail grew back looking exactly how it did before I yanked it off.

Lesson learned? If you want perfect lookingtoe nails, tell your father not to marry my mother.

Love,

Waila

Free Writing: Write About Someone You Used To Love

goodbye

I will never forget what I was wearing the day it all started. A canary yellow v-neck jumper from Zara, black wide legged pants and pointed black court shoes. I’d met him a few months before at a party my cousin invited me to.  We didn’t talk much at the party and to be honest, I only noticed him because he was quite light skinned. He had a girlfriend at the time so there was no thought of a possible romance.

The day I met him again, in my yellow jumper, I was at church waiting for the first service to end so I could go into the second service. There were quite a few of us waiting in the foyer and I was surprised when my roaming eyes connected with his.  He remembered me and seeing as we were both alone, ended up sitting together during the service. Afterwards, he had a few hours to kill before he had to go to some lunch soirée and asked if I’d like to catch up over drinks. I said yes and that was the beginning of a rather interesting year and some.

We got on so well over drinks that when he dropped me off home, we swapped numbers. It was the summer holidays and I was working my first ever job at a photography studio selling makeovers to members of the public. He worked for a hedge fund and in that period was as working Japanese hours.  His working day started at midnight and we would be on the phone talking about Lord knows what, till I had to get out of bed and get ready for work. I got the raw end of the deal on that one! I couldn’t use my phone at work so he got to sleep while I was working. I was seriously sleep deprived that summer.

I will never forget our first date. We met up in the west end, grabbed a bite to eat at Wagamama and then walked the back streets of central London. It really was perfect. Well until we headed to the cinema to watch a movie during which my bag got stolen. Actually, even that was perfect. He went into superman mode and called the police and my bank to report the theft. We walked to his office because he had a shift to start and he called me a cab, paid for it and shoved a couple of twenty pound bills in my hand to tide me over till I got my replacement cards. I tried to refuse the money but it was a Friday and in those days, banks didn’t open on Saturdays. After convincing me to swallow my pride and take the money, I did.

For a whole host of reasons, things didn’t work out between us. He was and still is an amazing guy and we are good friends to this day. At the time things fell apart, I was convinced I’d never find anyone like him again.

I was right, I still haven’t found anyone like him and to be honest, it’s a good thing I haven’t. In hindsight, amazing though he was, he wasn’t right for me.

Love,

Waila

Waila’s Free Writings

Hey guys,

One of the things I’d like to do this year is work on my writing by writing more frequently and writing outside of my comfort zone. I have the attention span of a flickering light bulb so I find it pretty difficult to focus. Plus I’m lacking inspiration at the moment so I can’t think of anything I want to write about.

I ran a search on creative writing exercises on Google and stumbled on an ideas generator that I quite like. You literally hit a button and it throws up a random topic for you to tackle. The rule of the exercise is that you have to free write i.e. put your pen to paper and pour out whatever comes to mind for a specified length of time, in my case, 10mins. You’re not allowed to pause in those 10mins and you’re not allowed to edit.

It’s perfect for me because it also means I get to write honestly without over thinking what I write. Don’t expect to uncover all my secrets but I will aim to be as open as I can manage.

Till I get bored of this ideas generator (and I know I will), I’ll post my free writing exercises. The subjects are SO random. I’ve just generated a few ideas and I’m having palpitations!

I’ve just done my first one. Fingers crossed they’ll all be worth reading.

Love,

Waila

Fighting For Forver: Part V (Final)

They say good things happen in three’s but bad things I tell you, happen by the dozen. I started my day rowing with Alex and it was downhill from there on in. My conversation with Nneka didn’t help matters but when I got to work to find that my MD was wanted by the EFCC for fraud, my day fell apart at the seams. Having being tipped off, he’d absconded to England with his family the previous day. The building was on security watch and operations, shut down by the commission.
How were Alex and I going to survive?!
I didn’t even get the opportunity to reclaim my personal effects. The place was ferociously guarded by frustrated policemen, hungry for opportunities to let off steam. I watched in horror, as they slapped Femi, the IT guy, senseless, for daring to attempt to bribe his way into the building. As tensions rose between angry staff and frustrated officers, I climbed back in my car and slowly made my way home. After the row we’d had earlier, I didn’t know how to break the news to Alex.
As I crawled along the streets of Victoria Island, I remembered the day he told me he’d lost his job. I suddenly understand how he must have felt. His distraught speech about needing time to get himself together suddenly made sense.
Where was I going to start from trying to find a new job?
I knew I’d been hard on him, I’d seen what happened when men got lazy and there was no way I was going to let him fall into that cycle, but for the first time, I realised I’d been unfair to him too.
I remembered when we first started dating. We were only two months into the relationship when mum had a stroke. At the time I told him I’d never forget everything he did to help her, but I lied. It’s wasn’t till I was sat in the car, dreaming up ways to avoid telling him my job had gone down the drain, that I remembered.
I’d forgotten how he’d sold his second car to help settle the hospital bills. I’d forgotten how he’d employed someone to look after her because I was away a lot with work. I remembered the sacrifices he made to ensure she had everything she needed.
I remembered the first time I tried to pay the electricity bill after we got married; he looked at me like I’d lost my mind, said it was his responsibility to provide for me and not the other way round. Up until he lost his job, he’d never asked me for a penny.
I had forgotten that.
I remembered how excited he got every time he had a new project at work. He’d bounce ideas off me and I’d dutifully listen, many times feigning interest. Many nights he’d stay at work long after his colleagues had called it a day, trying to perfect his designs. The man had loved his job.
I had forgotten that.
My fears had blinded me to the reality that the man I married is nothing like the man I accuse him of being. Slamming down on the gas, I sped home to say the words I should have said when he came home lost and hurting having just lost his job,
“We’ll get through this.”

Fighting For Forever: Part IV

“What do you mean you lost your job?” she asked, her eyebrows meeting in the centre of her forehead.

“I got fired, sacked, get it?!”

“Don’t get smart with me, you know what I mean.”

“I’m sorry babe, it’s just that today has been the worst day of my life. I don’t know how to feel, what to think.”

“You still haven’t explained what happened.”

I took her by the arm and led her to the sofa. I hated having to admit to her that I’d failed and foolishly too. I knew how proud she was of me and everything I’d achieved in the 4 years we’ve been together. I opened my mouth to explain how it had happened but the weight of my shame silenced me.

“Go on Alex, talk to me. Your silence is driving me crazy!”

“I’m sorry, I just feel like such an idiot. I made a big mistake that lost the company a multi-million dollar contract. I swear I didn’t know the guy was a conman. I didn’t know!”

“Calm down Alex and start from the beginning,” she said, clasping my hands in hers, her fingers drawing comforting strokes.”

“Remember the deal I told you about? Turns out the guy I contracted to supply the marble tiles was a fraud.”

“How’s that possible? I thought you said you were using Zania? They are the largest importers of marble in Africa!”

“Yeah they are but it turns out the guy doesn’t work for them.”

“Didn’t you check him out? But you said you said he showed you round their warehouse in Matori?”

“Honey, I don’t understand it. I even went to his office in their main building on Adeola Odeku. I don’t know how the guy did it. He gave us an invoice and we paid for the tiles but they didn’t arrive on the day he said they would. When we tried to call him to find out what was going on we got no response so I sent one of my assistants to his office. I was dumbfounded when she came back and said she was told no one by that name worked there. I went there myself and met the MD, he confirmed it. I explained what had happened and he asked to see the contracts and all the paper work. Turns out they were all fake.”

“Oh my God, Alex this is huge!”

“Like that wasn’t bad enough, the client threatened us with legal action if we didn’t produce either the tiles or their money so the company had to pay back the money. It wasn’t my fault Karen, it wasn’t but the losses were too great, someone had to pay for it.”

“I’m so sorry baby, I know it wasn’t your fault.” She cradled my head against her breasts while I sobbed my heart out. Everything I’d worked for was gone in an instant. My reputation was in shreds and I was forced to pay back the $200,000 commission I had received for landing the project. No other design firm in the country would hire me, my MD had made that much clear to me.

“Don’t worry about it baby, things will work out,” she soothed, stroking my head, “you’ll get another job and things will go back to normal soon enough.”

“To be honest Karen, I don’t even know what I want to do with myself anymore. No design firm will hire me now and to be honest, I’m not sure I want them to. I need time to get my head around this and figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life. Perhaps this is God’s way of getting me to explore other options.”

“When up say you need time, how long are we talking? A couple of days? A week?”

“A month, maybe two. I don’t know babe. I just need time to get my head round this.”

Her fingers stilled against my head and looked up into her eyes questioningly.

“And how are we supposed to survive while you’re getting your head round this?”

“I know it’s not ideal but we could live on you salary till I sort something out.”

“Ah, I see. I’m supposed to go out to work, while you laze around all day right?!”

“Karen!”

“Don’t Karen me! This is how it starts. One month turns to six and before you know it it’s been sixteen years and you’re still trying to get yourself together. If you think I’m going to work my butt off while you live a life of leisure, do yourself a favour and get that fantasy out of your head.”

“Who said anything about living a life of leisure? All I said is I need a little time to figure out where to go from here, is that too much to ask? I know what my responsibilities are as a man, as your husband, and you should know better than to think I’m trying to abdicate them!”

“Story! All I know is you need to find a job and fast too. You want to take a break from your career? Joker! The next thing I know you’ll be spending your days getting drunk in front of the TV and slamming my head against walls. If you thought you’d struck it lucky, you had better think again. I am not my mother.”

“And I Karen, am not your Father.”