Passing Faces

I work. I suppose you know that already. Of all the many nerve racking things that come with working, commuting to work is the absolute worst for me. I’d go on and on telling you how depressing it is, but that’s unnecessary. It ain’t my flow.

You know the Yin yang theory? In my oh-so-dark-depression every morning, there’s this little shimmering light that makes all the difference. Brings some strange sorta peace in a very weird way. It has come to be the best part of my mornings.

I do it every morning. Have conversations with myself. About them. :)

From the moment I’m dropped off and I walk the rest of the journey to work, there are specific people I expect to see. I’ve seen them everyday since I started taking that route. I’ve watched them. I know them. But they don’t know me.

I do not know their names but I’ve named them in my mind and I wonder about them.

I walk pass tons of people everyday, but these 7, I look out for. They have come to be my light in all the dark.

There’s the first woman. I call her Iya Titi, for no reason in particular. It just fits. She’s there every morning. As early as 6 a.m. She faces me as I get out of the car. She sells fruits, as the seasons come. It was mango once before, and then tangerines, bananas at some point too. It’s agbalumo now. I bought a few from her some days ago, just because. She looked up and smiled at me and said thank you, I smiled back and walked off with agbalumos in my bag and a name for her. We’re friends now, if only by a smile.

Next up are the two beggars who sit in the path I thread by with laminated A4 papers around their necks. I’ve never stopped to read what they have on, neither have I stopped to drop a few bucks. I’m not mean, I just wonder about them. How long would they sit out to beg, what amount of money would make a difference to them. What do they want out of life? Even I cannot fathom what it might be.

I walk just a few steps more before I start to hear the clinging sound from afar off. It’s where the next two are. I think they’re sisters. In my mind they are. The elder one fries puff puff, the younger one hits a fork on an iron tray to get the attention of passersby. They’re there everyday too. We don’t smile at each other – yet – but it’s satisfying seeing them support each other in the early hours of the morning, trying to make ends meet as people swarm by to face their daily businesses.

I walk only a little more, and then I’m on the street that leads to the back gate of the estate my office is. I take a bike from this street. There are tons and tons of bike men who chant “Sister come” when I get here, but I never budge. I have a chosen one. He’s the sixth. He wears a thin faded blue shirt everyday and has a fixed sad smile. He’s old and I have no name for him. I take no other bike when I do not see him, I’m always early anyway, so I have enough time to spare. I do not want my N50 to go into anybody else’s pocket. I want it to be in his alone. And he knows it. When I get there and he isn’t there, immediately he’s back, he comes to me and says good morning, with that fixed sad smile, only a little wider. I give him the brightest smile I’ve got and say “Good morning, sir”. And then, I get on the bike and we zoom off in the ambiance of our silence and peaceful friendship. On random days, I want to pay him N100 instead of N50, just because, but I wonder how he’d react. I wonder if he’d be excited or if he’d feel insulted. I wonder about him. Every single time.

The seventh person is a lot like me. She’s a young girl. She lives within the estate. She’s always leaving for work when I’m walking the last mile to my office. I envy that. She’s very pretty :) We pass by each other without a word but we give each other a placid stare. I know when she’s happy and when she’s down. I know when she had a good night rest and when it was frustrating. Yesterday, after we passed by, I turned around to look at her again and she had done the exact same thing. We smiled and turned around. I planned to ask for her name today :)

I’m glummer than usual today. My little lights weren’t there today.

Iya Titi wasn’t on the bridge today chanting “buy your fruits, fresh fresh fruits”. The beggars weren’t on the street. I didn’t hear the clank of the fork on the tray from afar off. I got there and saw the elder sister alone struggling to fry the puff puff, get people’s attention and sell them all at once. I stood out for almost thirty minutes, my bike man never came. And when I walked in, she didn’t pass. I couldn’t ask for her name.

I walked by looking worried, wondering where they all went and what could have happened to them. I saw too many people look at me like something was amiss.

I walked on, finding my path in the dark wondering if my lights would be back to light up the way tomorrow.

ITK

If you do not decipher what the title means at once, you aren’t Nigerian or you’re too posh for your own good.

I’ll explain.

You know those pupils that were in your class – in every level of your education – that sat in front and had queer behaviors such as:

*They’d run out to help the teacher/lecturer with what he/she is carrying as he/she approaches the classroom (Some people in this category were just genuinely respectful though)

*They help with wiping the board or setting up the presentation even if the teacher/lecturer had planned to do it by him/herself (Same comment above)

*Just before the teacher/lecturer completes the question to be asked, their hands are already up with great enthusiasm you can feel their vibe from your seat at the far end of the class (Damn right an ITK!)

Yes, those people. They’re are called ITKs

A clearer picture?

Have you watched Three Idiots? (One of my favorite movies, BTW)

Do you remember Chatur ‘Silencer’ Ramalingam? He was the antagonist in the plot, against my totally cute Rancho’ Shamaldas Chanchad (The “all izz well” dude)?

Remember? Remember? Argh! If you don’t, I can’t help you anymore. 😐

For what it’s worth, ITK means ” I Too Know”

I coined a perfect definition.

ITK can be defined as;

A constant need by an individual to prove oneself as all-knowing and tremendously smart in a bid to make counterparts look at him/her with awe and utter respect for such unfathomable intellect. However, these individuals are more often than not, battling with inner demons of feeling not good enough (Emphasis on “more often than not”), hence the reason why every opportunity to show what they know is grasped with a vengeance. 😐

P.S.: I’m not headed towards a story or certain conclusion. I may have come across an ITK today and felt the need to share my articulate definition. May have.

:)

“Rapunzel, let down your hair. NOW!”

My hair is natural *shrugs*

Unlike many “naturalistas”, my hair hasn’t always had me gushing and taking pictures of the step by step process I take to make it look good. It’s my hair. It’s on my head. That’s about it.

I hardly even remember it is natural except when my stylist is huffing and puffing above me trying to weave the base to fix my weave on or when my weave gets all tangled halfway into the scheduled time I want to have it on and I cannot yank it off. (That happens all the time, so let’s just say I always remember my hair is natural. *covers face* But you get the point, yes?)

I think my nonchalance towards my hair is mostly ’cause I didn’t selectively go natural. It just happened. So all the fuss about watching how it grows is beyond me.

So, I chose this month to have a relationship with my hair. (I’m only two days into it and this is no fun. :( )

I’m having a bit of culture shock. There are all these terms. These rules. I’m like wha.?!

– How long is your hair: “Bra-strap length” “Collar bone length” “Tonsils length :|”

– Co-wash your hair.

– Always seal it before you go to bed with a silk or satin scarf

– No heat driers

– Constantly moisturize it with castor oil, coconut oil, the fat from the inner thighs of a cow !

– Jump in the rain for more length

– Scattered hair is cute

It’s endless! Like a mini-project.

I can’t deal 😐

Those little epiphanies

When I’m on the fast lane, living everyday like I’m entitled and complaining about the least significant things; I’m thankful for little rude awakenings that zap me back to reality and leave me feeling grateful for this level of grace I do not deserve.

Do you know Nick Vujicic? You should Google his images up. I met him today – on wikipedia – and he left me feeling grateful. It only felt right to share some of that with you.

I’m thankful for;

  • My mornings. They involve me getting off my bed tired as hell – after barely four hours of sleep – wondering what all of life is about. I get to see each new day. 
  • For all the fight and hate I had with my sister, growing up. We’re getting closer as the days go by. It’s the best thing in my life these days.
  • My parents who are constantly at each other’s throat, they’re alive and have that much vigor, That’s definitely a blessing of good health and vitality, yes?
  • Friends, who despite my inanities still find time to check on me and get angry when they have no idea what’s going on with my life. So much love :)
  • How I get totally pissed off at work and wish I could just give someone a piece of my mind. I’ve got a job!
  • My crazy broke days, when I starve at work till I’m home to have dinner. I feel what it is to have little and appreciate it more, when I have a lot
  • My inability to squeeze time out for the fun things of life. Makes me live the best of the littlest moment I get.
  • The plenty wrongs I’ve done. I’m a step closer to self discovery.

It’s a really long list, but I’ll stop now.

One of the most important things is knowing that in all the banter about how our lives are not-so-good, there are tons of people who hardly know what a fairly good life is. My dad’s favorite quote when I start to go on and on is  “I was crying I had no shoes, then I met someone who had no legs”

We really need to learn to breathe and be thankful through it all.

 

‘The happiest of people don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes along their way.’ – Karen S. Magee

Peace!

A Tale of Bravery

When I think about my parental years ahead, I’m constantly on the edge, hoping I’d have a personal story of bravery and focus to tell my kids to inspire them.

I imagine them sitting at my feet with awestruck gazes saying “Mum, how were you so courageous/Smart/Awesome/Drop-dead-gorgeous…?” (You catch my drift?)

Up until yesterday, I’d seen myself say “I used to be the best in my class”, like your parents and mine, and I’d cringe at how funny it is that everyone’s parent was a smarty pants back in the days. Who now failed, biko?

Speaking of yesterday, it was the scariest moment I’ve had in all my years and the bravest. For the life of me, I had no idea where it came from. Here’s how it happened:

It was about 7:30pm. I was on my way home from work in my friend’s car. We were on Osborne road, just before the intersection that diverts to Third mainland bridge or Eko bridge. We were three in the car; two guys and I, I was seated in front next to the dude driving.

We were in traffic, blaring loud music with  the windows down and arguing about pre-marital pregnancy. My phone rang; it was my dad. I picked the call with my right hand, that’s the side of the open window.

“Hello daddy”

“Deola, where are you?”

“I’m about to hit Eko bridge”

(Two guys passed. I put the phone on the other side. Daddy continues)

“Ok. Be………..”

I didn’t get to hear the rest of that line yo! The two dudes were at my window pointing a gun! “Gimme your phone!” They chanted. “Gimme your phone”

I felt an onslaught of emotions, my people. It was fear. Panic. Trepidation. Wanting to pee and poop and fart all at once!

I just stayed there, gazing at them in confusion. I had dropped the phone beneath my foot.

I screamed a little, looked around to check the boys in the car with me, wondering if they were still there ’cause it was dead silent in there! They were. No one was saying anything. Or at least I wasn’t hearing anything. They looked even more confused than I did. I was a lone foot soldier at the warfront.

One of the guys hit my jaw, a first time, then a second! Well aimed punches. All my sanity left. I was acting out of fury. I kicked the hand holding the gun, random kicks that hit the target, chanting “Give you what?! ehn! Give you what?!”. The moment the hand was out, I wound up and at that moment I wasn’t so alone, my friend zoomed away from location as fast as possible.

A few takeouts:

  • There’s is a tendency to think this happened over a while. No. It wasn’t more than 5-7 minutes. Yes. They were the most frightening 5-7 minutes I’ve had in all my years and it could have cost me my life.
  • My friends said the gun looked like a toy gun. I didn’t check. It was the least of my worries.
  • You would think and maybe even ask the question: “You phone or your life?” I’d say both! No scummy stupid thief would just whisk by and dash off with my possessions! Dafuq is that about?
  • I’d like to stand on a pedestal and sing “I’m a superwoman, yes I am”  in Alicia Keys’ voice for the itsy-bitsy bravery I showed last night, but I know better. I’m still the same old lily-livered rat. It was bravado borne out of shock. I’m glad it worked.
  • My kids and grand-kids would re-tell this tale to their friends, more awestruck gazes *does a little dance*
  • Lagos has got to be one of the unsafest places. I’m moving out! *packs bags and heads to Antarctica* 😐
  • Most of all, I’m grateful I didn’t lose my life over a bloody phone.

Peaze out!