Opinions And Cages | Non-Fiction

(This piece was first published on my Facebook wall in December 2015. It is a true story, and rather long, but I hope you find it readable at least.)

October, 2015.

For a few moments I could not recognize my surroundings, and twice the bus conductor had to inform me that I had reached the last stop. I alighted, feeling a little embarrassed, with my movements unsteady and my eyes trying to make out where I actually was. I should have known better than gulping down several glasses of Vodka on an evening that was neither Friday nor Saturday, particularly when there was still another day of work at that office where my only smiles came at 6pm, before ushering in the weekend in its saving glory. Sure enough, the mini-university reunion had been lots of fun, reliving old jokes and all, but there was only so much alcohol the body could freely accommodate, and with what was left of my sobriety, I could deduce that the next day at work would be a long one. Still, I boarded a tricycle to the estate housing my apartment, not quite sure if I had not paid thrice the fare. I definitely wouldn’t have known, I was intoxicated like that.

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Reunions, Memories And Mixed Drinks

“Hey, are you ok? ”
“Yes, I am. Why do you ask? ”
“Everybody is having fun, and you just choose to sit here? ”
“I’m getting into the groove, just watch, you will be begging me to slow down.”
“Ok o. Until then. ”
With that, he went his way, leaving you to sit on the sparsely decorated white plastic chair, a tall glass of red wine and a flurry of thoughts being your choice for company, at least for that moment. The curiosity of the man you just had a conversation with was not without good reason; it was not the kind of evening where being alone with your thoughts would be a particularly popular choice, afterall, high school reunions were not organised too frequently, what with the financial obligations, logistics and all. Continue reading

The Periwinkle List

​9.58am.

Victoria Garden City, Lagos.

It was an unusual time on a Monday morning to still maintain the affinity between my back and the multi-coloured bedsheet that I had been too lazy to wash over the weekend; I should be in my slave plantation of a workplace, dazed by the grueling traffic from a few hours before, responding to threatening office mails in servile fashion and flashing plastic smiles to customers with an unnecessarily huge sense of entitlement…..but today was different. The ones who worshipped on Fridays rather than Sundays had their version of December 25th going on, so the federal government pleased all 9-5ers as it rarely did, by announcing a two-day public holiday. Left to me, I would have loved that a search be conducted for another missing moon thereby causing an extension of my days away from the plantation, but no horses were going to have beggars riding them. I scrolled down my phonebook (in vain) for the phone numbers of friends who would have me partake in a binge on those juicy ram parts, and finding none, I opted for another outlet to search for company: my social media timeline. Continue reading

The Detached

(The following is a narration of true events that took place in the wee hours between 27th and 28th March, 2016.)

27th March, 2016.
Lagos, 10.22pm.

I kept my gaze on my smartphone, waiting for the Airtel network to convert the little spiral lines into a green tick, and send my message across hundreds of kilometres to the heart of the East. It was a late Easter message to Ugochi, with the extra gloss of “I’ve missed you a lot” and “I really want you around”. I didn’t have faith in achieving any kind of positive outcome with those words, but I had nothing to lose by typing them out either.

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Catching Up….Or Not

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Ordinarily, I wouldn’t have had any business in the banking hall that day; i did not operate any account with them, and I had no deposits to make on anyone’s behalf, but the phone dealers across the street had shamelessly failed to get their POS machine functioning properly, so I had to make a withdrawal at the nearest ATM available (yea, ATM, not “ATM machine”)…..but a number of the notes that popped out consisted of “oil money” – literally, stained with palm oil – so i elected to step into the hall and ask for substitute notes. Afterall, the erring papers came from them.

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THEY SHOULD HAVE KILLED CHIVALRY

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(The next lines you will read are inspired by true events that transpired in the final few hours of January 31st, 2016.)

“Bros, abeg help me check time. ”

“It’s eight-thirty right now. ”

He nods in acknowledgment of your response and places his foot a little more firmly on the throttle. It’s Sunday night in Lagos, few hours separating you from that month in the year where everyone becomes a poet and the prices of flowers and chocolates skyrocket. Lekki is the destination, and the roads look free enough to conduct a Grand Prix…..except for the Ajah axis, that is; you could end up in a traffic jam at eleven forty-five p.m in that part of town. In any case, you both are sure of getting to her place in less than forty minutes, where same would have taken one hour and a half on either of the five days of certain gridlock.

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Hymns From Badore

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Six months had passed since I last set foot into a church building (my last appearance being Easter Sunday), but I did not feel for a moment that I had missed anything. The reading of the bible passages reeked of dour formality, the officiating priest churned out recycled sermons, the chants were the same, the hymns had not changed much, and I pretty much knew which activity followed the other.
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Strange Boots

23rd September, 2015.

The spot hurts, and not without good reason. Twice in the space of ten minutes, that corner of my head has made forcible contact with a sharp-edged portion of the bus. Not that the bus is comfortable by any standards, but there is something about this part of the bus that makes it seem like a reservoir for pain. My head was already previously aching from a long day at the slave site I call an office, so the double bump is just perfect. No, I didn’t cause the hurt myself by nodding carelessly to loud music. On the two different occasions, passengers had thought it wise to make unsolicited body contact while boarding the bus, and apparently, an apology is too much to ask for in this big city. Life is too short for that, and besides, you should understand that the one thing on every passenger’s mind is getting home, so courtesy and good manners face suspension like a country’s constitution under a military junta. I am learning. There is still a lot to catch up on around here, but I’ll be fine….  Continue reading

Power Nap

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(Author’s Note: The set of paragraphs you are about to read is a narration of true events that took place in the early hours of June 30th, 2015.)

9.00pm.

Lagos, Nigeria.

“Hey, good evening, what’s the name?”

I’d seen her, light-complexioned and long umbrella in hand, come out of a house at the other side of the street. There was something
about her cheeks, something that made you want to stroke them for 25 hours. It was cold, she was
covered in a dark blue sweater, and for a moment
I wished she was all wrapped up beneath my
blanket. I decided to find out who she was, but
she uttered no response, and as a matter of fact she switched lanes. As it turned out, we were
going the same direction, so i caught up with her
and repeated the question.

“What’s the name?”

“Excellence”, she replied.

A younger me would have resorted to chuckling as my first reaction, but I smiled, and then we got
talking about how I had not seen her before, and how PHCN had improved its services since the
new administration took over. There is something about the weather that has it always come up as
a subject of conversation, and in a matter of
minutes we were talking about the rainy season.

“This rain sha. Everywhere gets flooded, and
moving around becomes ‘difficant’.”

Difficant?! I wondered if that was a new word in the dictionary. Well there was always a chance
that I had heard wrongly, so i lured her into
repeating the statement.

“I didnt get you”, I said.

“I said that movement becomes difficant”, she repeated.

A red flag flew at full mast in my mind’s eye. I
told myself that I would definitely not have sustained interactions with the lady after that
evening, but our feet were still pointing in the same direction, so we kept walking.

It was pretty windy when I stepped out, but at least it was dry. Excellence’s decision to step out
with an umbrella proved to be one borne out of
foresight, as it soon began to drizzle. She could have continued walking, afterall, she was sufficiently
protected, but she chose to run with me beneath
the zinc roof of a kiosk which had closed for the
day, in a bid to find shelter. Then without
warning, she drew herself closer and leaned
forward to take up my lips into hers. For some
reason I couldnt explain, i shifted backwards,
declining a taste of her lip gloss.

The winds intensified, and for the first time I looked in the direction of her legs. I noticed she
had been wearing a short gown beneath that
sweater all along. The breeze did a good job of raising the gown to reveal her smooth thighs, and
I began to feel that I had pulled away too soon.
My hormones had been triggered, and I literally reached for the lower end of her gown. This time
it was her turn to shift backwards, but she added
a little something extra: she let out a cackling
laugh.

It wasnt just any kind of laughter. It was the kind
you hear in those marine kingdom scenes from
Nollywood movies. The goosebumps on my skin
took perfect shape. Her hair was responding appropriately to the wind, and she wouldnt stop
laughing as she stared at me…..

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“A girl I’d never seen
Lay next to me with golden skin
I sprung up to my feet
She asked me what was wrong
I began to scream
‘I dont think this is me,
Is this just a dream
Or really happening?’ ”

***********
4.15am.

I was back in my apartment, jolted back to
reality, but Excellence’s laughter had seeped in
from my dreams and into my world. I then tried
to open my eyes and get up, but found myself
unable to. I knew what was happening. It was
another of those nights.

Yes, someone (or something) had come to ‘press’
me in my sleep yet again, and as was often the
case, I couldnt see who or what it was. I knew
the drill: get pinned, lose my ability to move any
part of my body for a number of minutes, then
struggle in my sub-conscious. This time the
malevolent force had chosen to fix my head and
neck in a chokehold. It was an annoying situation,
but I had a new day to begin, and ‘he’ wouldnt
negotiate, so the fight began.

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I forcefully tried to open my eyes, but they felt like
they were stuck with glue. My spirit then kicked
and dug an elbow into my assailant’s sides. He
wouldnt budge, so my spirit kicked again, all the
while barely able to churn out cries of “Jesus,
Jesus”. We rolled along the wall, and even found
ourselves mid-air, before my spirit sunk its teeth
into my attacker’s form. I struggled to break free,
kicking again, before the force finally let go.

“I want to wake up kicking and screaming
I want to wake up kicking and screaming
I want to know that my heart’s still beating
Still beating, I’m pleading”

The fight had lasted for two ‘Dreamland’ hours,
which would transIate to about twenty ‘Earth
minutes’. I was able to open my eyes at last,
finding that I had fallen off the bed. I knew that
this was by no means the last visit from whatever
had attacked me, but I also knew that the
weapons of warfare were not carnal in nature.
The issues of superstition and excessive belief in
the metaphysical were topics for a future
discussion, but I loved to think that a lot of
battles go on in the spiritual realm, and that my
spirit had lived to fight another night.

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Too Much To Ask

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“Chidinma, it’s really cold. I need you here.”

“Awwwwww.”

“How’s it been over there? Do you even get to go out?”

No o. I get to be indoors alone. It’s so boring, from the house to the office and back. I just came in now. I’m so tired.”

“Ouch. Coming back this late. Your boss is just being mean. I’m so sorry Baby, I wish I was beside you.”

Hmmm….me too. When will you be back from Lagos? It’s been three weeks.”

“I’ll be home to you soon. Stay beautiful. I love you.”

“Me too.”

Yeah,  that was Chidinma’s new way of responding to my sweet-nothings. “Me too”, because the words “I love you too” were a little too stressful for her tongue, or probably consumed too many micro-seconds. I smiled as I hung up, not because of any giggly sensations generated by the phone call, but because of the unfolding of events. Continue reading