Memories

A Bird In Hand Is Worth Two In The Bush

When the principal of my secondary school decided to cancel our prom for fear of having pregnant teenage girls on her hands, I should have taken it as a sign from the gods that for me, prom was not meant to be. I wasn’t having it though, I’d had my Prom dress sitting in my wardrobe for almost a year and I was determined to wear it, come hell or high water. Some equally determined comrades decided that if our school wouldn’t let us have a prom, we would have the prom outside of school. And so it happened that they joined forces with a couple of other schools and a joint prom was planned.

Now I had a dress and a prom to go to but I had no date. I didn’t want to ask any of my male friends as I wanted it to be a romantic experience. My friend Tikka Masala and I began to strategise. We decided she would hook me up with a guy who was a friend of a friend and I could get the romance going before prom. And so it happened that I was introduced to the guy, Alakoba, three weeks before prom.  We got talking and got on quite well.  I’d never met him but I really liked the sound of him and rather speedily, fancied myself in like with him. He knew from the onset that he was taking me to the prom so we talked about it; what I was wearing, what he was wearing, how we would get there, curfews. I really started to like this guy who I’d never met and the mystery made the thought of prom night ten times more exciting.

Prom day came and my friend Agiliga was having a party in Alakoba’s neighbourhood. It was a daytime thing so Tikka Masala and I went to the party and on our way home decided to pay Alakoba a surprise visit… I couldn’t wait any longer. I’d spoken to him that morning and the plans were looking good. When we got to his house, we were told he had gone out. He was supposed to pick me up at 7pm and it was 5pm. We raced home hoping that by the time we got home, he would be home and getting ready. As soon as we got to Tikka Masala’s, I called him and was told he still wasn’t home. I started to panic but Tikka Masala calmed me down. She reckoned by the time we showered and got dressed, he would be back. I headed for the shower and as soon as I got out, called him again. He still wasn’t home. I wore my dress and then I called again. He still wasn’t home. I did my makeup and then called him. He still wasn’t home. At this point, the panic had settled in the pit of my stomach. I was a nervous wreck. Where was he? Had he forgotten about prom? Was I going to turn up at prom dateless? God forbid!  I styled my hair and then called his house again. The person who’d been answering my calls had had enough.

“Alakoba has taken his mother to Ibadan and won’t be back till tomorrow. Don’t call again this night!”

Tikka Masala and I were in shock. What in blazes was my prom date doing in Ibadan?! Tikka Masala suggested I go alone but I refused…over my dead body! What kind of loser goes to prom alone?!  Did the foolish boy not know he had to go to Ibadan when I spoke to him this morning?!

I had to think fast. One of those friends I had shunned in favour of that Alakoba would have to help me out. After all, what are friends for?!  Aha! I knew who I could ask. He wasn’t going to the prom and I knew he had a suit because he’d been to his own prom a few weeks before. I rang my dear friend Tajie, and gentleman that he is, he agreed to rescue a damsel in distress. Tajie, walahi, your head is correct!

After prom night, I erased Alakoba’s phone number from my memory. I didn’t want to know what his story was and it was just as well because he never called to explain himself.  Just as quickly as he’d appeared, he vanished off my radar. Till this day I have not spoken to him and I still have no idea what he looks like.

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Love, Waila

Dear Friends,

Given my impeccable manners, it would be rude of me not to acknowledge that today is the 14th of February. Only one who is bitter would begrudge lovers openly loving themselves whilst the rest of us gaze longingly on. I am not one of such. I bear no grudge against Saint Valentine, after all, he is not to blame for my current state of ‘manlessness’. 

I woke up this morning with a false sense of hope.  Sometime during the night, while my brain was off duty, the powers of the night hijacked it and filled it with nonsensical notions. How else would you explain the urge to robe myself in fine garments this morning should a gentleman friend want to wine and dine me after work? How else would you explain my turning up to work this morning expecting to find my desk crumbling under the weight of the flowers resting on it? Wicked powers they are, wicked! They almost succeeded in their mission to send me into depression but the forces of good intervened.  Just as I began to wonder if anyone loves me, I got a text message that read ‘Happy Valentines Mother!’ How my heart leapt with joy!  Oh to be loved by someone besides my mother who is obliged to do so lest the traumatic hours she spent in labour be in vain.

Yes, my son remembered me on this day! Such a simple message but so unexpected and sweet.  It pleased me so much that I have decided he ought to be rewarded for his impeccable timing and intuition.  He will be the recipient of the jacket his heart has long desired. ‘She has a son?!’ you wonder.  I do indeed.  I did not conceive him though, I would not dream of ruining my fine figure. He is the product of the union between my Uncle Tee and his wife. Some would call him my cousin but that is their business.

This year, Valentine’s Day took me by surprise.  Apparently, love (along with dust, germs and bacteria) has been in the air but I hadn’t noticed. Mayhap it is because I have been otherwise occupied and have not visited the malls or high streets recently. Yester night it suddenly dawned on me that the day was aye upon me and I found myself rating my memories of the day set aside for love.

Last year my dear friend Stinkus and her gentleman friend T-Baby turned up at my flat with a heart shaped mug filled with little chocolates and a packet of cocoa. I was deeply gratified by their thoughtfulness although I suspected foul play. Perhaps they were trying to motivate me to enter into a union of my own? I suspect their patience with my aloneness is wearing thin.

My second favourite memory was the year my mother gave me a silver necklace with a heart shaped locket. The locket held a picture of her cradling my infant self in her arms. It’s the sort of gift one treasures and passes on to one’s offspring. Alas, I lost it!

My favourite memory features my brother G, who when he chooses, can be delightfully saccharine. I forget how old we were but we were in primary school at the time. We were trying to decide on whom to bestow our titles of Valentine.  We concluded it ought to be people we loved. He said he loved me and asked if I loved him. I said I did. We saved our pocket monies and went together to Park n Shop to pick out presents. I remember not what he bought me but when he handed over the gift bag, he leaned in and gave me a peck on the cheek. Romantic or what?!

It is with these memories I warm myself on this cold and rainy day.

A Happy Valentine’s Day to you.

Love,

Waila

A Whole New World

I was 11years old and leaving home for the first time. I’d been home alone with my mother for two years and I envied my brothers their independence. My mother and I turned up at my new school with my two bulging suitcases in tow. The prefect at the check-in desk had a check list as long as my face and efficient mother that I have, I wasn’t missing a thing. Not even the twelve dozen handkerchiefs they insisted I bring.

Parents of new boarders were allowed into our dormitories to help us settle in. Most JSS1 girls cried when it was time to say goodbye to their parents but I didn’t. As soon as my mother had helped haul all my property to my dorm, I gave her her matching orders.

“Don’t you want me to help you unpack?” she asked in surprise.

“No mummy, I’m fine, you can go now.”

The seniors laughed at me. “You had better let your mummy stay as long as possible because as soon as she goes you will start crying.”

Cleary they didn’t know me. I smiled at them politely and then sent a frown my mother’s way.

“Mummy go now!” I moaned.

“Okay,okay, I’m going.”

As soon as she left I unpacked my bags and made my bed. I couldn’t wait to tie a wrapper round my chest, bra straps on show, and lie in my bed like everyone else was. I could taste the freedom…and it was sweet!

I’d been there twenty four hours when I had my first run in with a senior.

“MEE, take this bottle down to slabs (the taps) and fill it with water for me.”

“No.”

As soon as I responded the entire dormitory went silent. I was confused. Had I done something wrong?

“Why not?”

“I don’t feel like going downstairs.”

She smiled at me and patted her mattress. “Sit down.” I sat.

“Let me explain how things work around here. I’m a senior and you’re a junior. When a senior asks you to do something, you do it.”

 “What if I don’t feel like doing it? It’s not by force is it?”

“It is by force. If you don’t do it, she will punish you and believe me, you don’t want to serve punishment.”

“What kind of punishments can they give you?” I didn’t get it. Only my mother, aunties and teachers had ever punished me.

“They can ask you to kneel down and fly your arms. Or pick pin. Or hang from a bunk. Or if you really piss them off, they can beat you.”

“Beat me? I will beat the person back!”

At this point, all the seniors in my dorm had gathered round us and were listening in awe. The laughter was deafening.

“Don’t worry, you will soon learn. For now, take the bottle and go and fill it for me.”

I obeyed. I wanted to go and visit my cousin to explain this foreign concept to me and the slabs were en-route.  When I replayed the conversation to my cousin she laughed herself to tears.

“Thank your stars that the senior was nice to you. Anyone else would have punished your life out.”

“Please this punishing business, how does it work? You mean any senior can just punish me if they feel like it?!”

“In a nutshell, yes! I suggest you do as you’re told if you don’t want to land yourself in trouble.”

I stared at empty bottle in my hand, thanked her for her advice and headed to slabs. I wasn’t ready to be punished, not just yet. I knew I would be at some point though. There was no way I was going to spend all my time running errands for people. Some of them would just have to accept no’s from me but until I figured out which one’s I could afford to defy, I smiled politely and said yes to every Tom, Dick and Harry.

The Trials of Mama Waila: Part 2 of 2

You will have to search the archives for the first part of this story. Laziness won the battle against dilligence. Forgive me.

‘You are rebellious…but I don’t blame you. It’s my fault. We have not been saying our morning prayers as a family. The devil is trying to come into this house. From today onwards, we will pray together every morning. Go and call your brother and the two of you meet me in the living room.’

I stared at my mother in amazement. Even after a good night’s rest, she still blamed me?! She allowed the house boy get away with insulting me and then flogged me to add injury to the insult. How will I not rebel?!

I dragged myself out of bed and went to wake my brother.

If she thought prayer would solve the matter, she was in for a surprise. No apology, no reconciliation. Make that apologies; one from her and the other from Effiong.

‘Go and play the keyboard so we can sing.’

You want me to play after flogging me?

After five minutes of stumbling over chords, she realised I was still mad.

Is it because I beat you that you are playing nonsense?! Get away from there. If you don’t want to play, don’t play.

I got up and went to kneel next to my brother.  I’m not playing.

As was the custom, my mother opened the prayers and then my brothers and I would pray in turns and then she’d round up. After reluctantly singing a few worship songs, I said Amen to her ‘In Jesus name.’

‘Father we thank you for keeping us alive to see this new day. We thank you for you love and your provision for this family. Father we thank you for health. I commit each of these children into your hands. I pray that you will make them children I can be proud of. Children that will be obedient. Children that will be respectful. I pray against the spirit of rebellion… ‘

Oh, that’s how we’re doing it eh? Okay, we will allow God settle this matter.

As was the custom, the oldest child prayed first but before my brother could start, I kicked off.

‘In Jesus name. Father I thank you for everything. I thank you that you see all things and know all things. Father I ask that you vindicate your children. Give us a mother that will love us. A mother that will be kind to us…’

I looked up to find my mother staring at me in awe…and anger.

I’m talking to God o, I wasn’t talking to you.

‘What kind of prayer are you praying and is it your turn to pray?!’

‘Mummy, I have things I want to say to God. You told him you don’t want rebellious children and I told him we want a mother that loves us.’

‘Are you saying I don’t love you?’

‘Do you love me?’

‘Of course I do, what kind of question is that?! That I correct you doesn’t mean I don’t love you.’

‘Then why is it okay for Effiong to curse me?’

It’s not okay but it’s also not okay for you to curse him back or ignore your uncle when he calls you.’

‘Mummy I was angry. I’m sorry I ignored Uncle.’

‘I understand that but it’s no excuse. Will you apologise to Effiong?’

‘Yes, but not until he apologises to me.’

‘Effiong!’ she shouted.

I went over to where she was sitting and gave her a hug.

I won.

Mama and Her Princess

Let me introduce you to my grandmother.  We call her Mama Guy.  Guy as in Pidgin for poser.  The name is well deserved but I’ll tell you why another day. She doesn’t speak or understand much English so it was for her sake I learnt to speak Pidgin. It was easier than learning Urhobo.

Mama Guy has a dog called Princess.

Ihave reason to believe she loves that mongrel more than all her thirteen grand children combined.  The first question she asks when she gets up in the morning is ‘Princess don chop?’ Heaven help you if you say no. 

Princess only eats fresh rice and stew. The rest of us make do with leftovers.

Princess does not eat eba. On the one occasion I expressed the same dislike, I was told I am spoilt and ungrateful.

Princess does not run any errands. All she does with her 24hrs is sat at Mama Guy’s feet eating and getting head and back rubs. The rest of us run up and down the stairs fetching till our knees give way…then we crawl on our stomachs.

Princess sits by the door and whines when she is hungry. Mama Guy barks orders to go and feed her doggy (daw-gee) at the nearest person. Should any of us attempt such antics, our brains will be slapped into position.

Princess was given the name my dear father had the world call me and I subsequently became known by the names on my birth certificate. Upstaged by a dog…a beast.

I decided to fight for my human rights.

Mama, e be like say na princess you like pass for this house.”

Ehen, problem dey?!”

How you go love dog pass your own pikin?!”

She stared at me in disbelief. “You dey jealous Princess?”

“Mama, how I go dey jealous dog? Which kind talk be dat?!”

Oya no vex. U sef siddon for ground make I begin rub you.”

Pursing her lips, she let out a loud whistle. Princess came bounding through the door and settled at her feet.

Join am for floor now, make I follow una two play.”

The insult. I plunked myself down on a sofa, turned on the TV and ignored the dog and its mistress.

Dog suya anyone?!

p.s.

The real Princess isn’t that cute. Trust me, she isn’t.

You Would Run Too If It Happened To You

In most major cities in the world, I imagine it is common place to find people with mental health problems roaming the streets. In Nigeria, there are hundreds of them and we don’t bother with political correctness, we call them mad men…or women.

One afternoon, I decided to take a leisurely stroll from my house to the Texaco petrol station just opposite Bar Beach.  I was going in search of a tub of FAN Vanilla Ice-Cream. I had been walking for less than 5minutes when I spotted a mad man across the street. I tried not to stare at him but I quickened my pace.

‘My wife, come!’

Oops. Mr mad man was calling me. Did he expect me to answer? I think not! I carried on walking, my pace quickening even more.

‘I’m calling you, come!’

I ignored him.

‘Small girl, be careful,’ I heard someone shout. I turned around to find the mad man sprinting towards me. I bolted down the street and spotting an open gate, ran into a stranger’s compound, slamming the gate shut.  10minutes, it took 10mins for the people on the streets to get the mad man to abandon his quest for my love and keep walking.
I was petrified. Any normal human being would have turned around and headed back home. Not MEE. I wasn’t going home without my ice-cream. I resumed my mission.

As I approached the junction of Bishop Oluwole and Ahmadu Bello, I spotted a mad woman sitting cross legged, drawing shapes in the sand. People were walking past her but she didn’t seem to care. Believing myself safe, I sauntered past.

‘Are you looking at me? Ki lo n wo?’

Aha, did I look at you?! I thought to myself. I beg leave me o! I stared straight ahead and kept walking.

‘Mo n ba e soro, ki lo n wo? What are you looking at?!’ She shouted after me.

Wahala.

I felt someone tap me on the shoulder. I turned and found myself staring into the eyes of the mad woman. Fear gripped me. I took to my heels!

‘Where are you running to? E duro jo!’

Wait for what? I carried on running. Next thing I knew, sticks and stones were flying past my head. The woman was playing target!

A few yards ahead, I spotted the petrol station. I sprinted onto its forecourt and grabbed one of the attendants.

‘Please help me, that woman wants to kill me!’

It took three attendants to restrain her. The station manager took me into the minute mart and gave me a glass of water. I sat there for 30mins nursing my fear. I stared at the tubs of FAN ice-cream sweating in the freezer.  After all my efforts, they weren’t even frozen! Melting ice-cream in hand, I cautiously hit the streets. I kept looking around nervously, waiting for the were to re-appear. She didn’t disappoint me. As I approached that cursed junction, I saw her singing and laughing like she hadn’t a care in the world. I tried to make myself invisible. No such luck. As soon as she saw me, the smile on her face faded. She bent down, grabbed the hem of her sutana, and like a flash of lightening, bolted towards me. Kicking off my slippers, I ran for dear life and didn’t stop till I reached my house.

It wasn’t till I was safely behind my locked gates I realised I’d dropped the tub of ice-cream en-route.

Yes, it really did happen.

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!

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…

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.