Slackening Ties

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It’s nearly nine hours into a day whose novelty is slowly wearing off, but it’s still three hours into yours. PHCN in emotionally unstable fashion restores power after another brief hiatus, and like a serial heartbreaker cum perennial flirt, you know that they will go away again, but you bask in the fleeting moments, switching on all the (functioning) bulbs and putting your fan on full spin. Half of your heart wants to tell your neighbour to save his hard-earned petrol, but you remember that he did not have your apartment in mind when he did the wiring, and you shrug as you head downstairs.

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Veinticinco (Or “Showing Up”)

31st July, 1990.
Warri, Bendel State.

“Isn’t the food here yet? ”

“Nna’m,  calm down, it’s almost ready. ”

Nna’m. That was how she addressed her husband. No sugary nouns, no shallow sweet-nothings, no expressions whose paper-thin weight you could even feel from the voice pitch. She loved him (dutifully at the very least), he protected her, she knew what she had to do around the house, he knew when to reach for his wallet, and that was it: the vintage West African couple, none of that Hollywood reality show faux gloss.

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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

Two-eighths Or Three-twelfths Of The Clock

(Apologies in advance for any errors or distortion in flow. These words will not be edited; such is the spirit of this piece.)

6.41am.

Lagos, Nigeria.

Typical day in this city that aims to sap the soul out of you. The ‘owners’ of the park call out their respective routes like they are reciting mantras, and the citizens stick to the corporate passenger cliché of suits and headsets. I step out in similar gear, but I still feel like an immigrant here, like a sheep in the big city. The lady who sits next to me in my office thinks that I had never heard of Jumia before I got here, and whenever she describes the sights and sounds of this city to me, there is always this “I’m sure you don’t have this in your place” tone in her voice. Her MTN-customer-service accent fails to mask the “h” factor attributed to people in these parts, but that’s a story for another day.

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Red-Earth Yuletide

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“What was the point washing this car in the first place”?

He is right. Well, Fathers usually are. The season and the dust that accompanies it makes the task of washing automobiles a total waste of time, and the rural dwellings, dust battles for supremacy with the air you breathe. What are you doing in a rural area anyway? Well your family has (against your wish, of course) decided that this year’s Yuletide will be happening in your hometown. It’s your first visit in five years, never mind the fact that the distance between your village and your city of residence is just about 45 minutes. As the years pass, the exotic feel and the excitement of spending Christmas in the old country have waned. Maybe you would be a lot more enthusiastic if the distance was over six hours, like West and East. As a matter of fact, you no longer get it anymore, as to why people risk their lives each year traversing regions for an event that would barely last a week. But Father has spoken, and you have no choice. Continue reading

Puppy Passions

Sleeping really deep is one of my attributes, but only a man who was stone dead would have failed to wake up to the screams that pierced through my dreams that hot afternoon. I reluctantly but inquisitively dragged myself out of the house to find out what was going on, and my curiosity was only satisfied when I got to the source of the sleep-disrupting sounds. It was the home of the Ajabors, devout members of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, whose abode was less than a four-minute walk away from mine. (The proximity did not stop me from panting when I got there; weeks of binge eating had begun to take their toll). Mrs Ajabor was deeply engrossed in meting out discipline on Daniel her 12-year-old son with a thick long garden branch, with her husband looking on in a manner that suggested unreserved approval. Continue reading