Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Life is not a fairy tale. ( formerly titled 'Job and Jos fever')

The gnawing pain in my abdomen grew worse. I doubled over and winced, willing the pain to pass. My head throbbed like a sore tooth. I looked over at the plate beside my bed. The dried piece of bread left over from last night sat unperturbed. My stomach churned at the sight, bile and nausea rising in my throat.

I rose from the bed to go to the bathroom, my vision doubled at the effort. I cradled my head in my hands and sat right back, apologizing to my ailing body for the unnecessary movement.

I felt uneasy like life was draining out of me. I reached for the Amoxil tablets on the little table in my room. It was the only table I had in the sparse cubicle type room. My land lady had graciously brought it out from her store, all dusty and old. I had no choice.
I feverishly pressed a tablet into my right hand and looked around for my cup. It was empty. I reached for the keg of water I always had well supplied, it was empty.


My mind raced at the thought of going out to buy water. The closest place was five houses away. I’ll most definitely faint before I get there.

I sat back on my flat mattress praying feverishly for sleep to claim my tired body when I heard a knock on the door.


Two more knocks in quick succession.

“Remi, are you in?” It was Aunty Funke. My angel in human form..

I had met her when I came to *Bukuru, posted to a school to teach biology to senior students, most of them as dull as dishwater. The whole process had angered me so, Until I met this pretty Business Studies teacher, a young wife living in the neighbourhood. She was *Yoruba, so amidst the language confusion, I found a ready companion. I spent most Thursday evenings in her house watching Super story and gulping down bowl after bowl of Amala and ‘draw’ soup

“Aunty, I’m here o. I’m not feeling well”, I managed to drag my bones, encased in hot, typhoid stricken flesh to my rickety door.

Aunty Funke gasped at the sight of my haunted frame.

“Sorry dear. Haba. Why didn’t you come to the house now?” She was looking around the room, probably pitying my sorry *Ajuwaya life.

“Have you eaten?” she asked, clearly worried. My eyes flew to the plate beside the bed; the day old bread stared back at me. I shook my head, no.

We packed a few of my clothes and my medicines and headed to her place. She gave me a spare room and I lay down. Twenty minutes later, I was served a steaming plate of Pap with lots of milk. I inhaled it in a flash. I felt better almost immediately. Ha! *Akamu wonder.

I lay back again and slept like a baby. At about 7.30 pm I woke to a heavy plate of pounded yam. I over estimated my ability to keep down such a monstrous dinner and dived in, meat first. I had finished three quarters of the meal when I felt a sudden sensation in my abdomen. I dropped the next morsel, already rolled in vegetable soup and halfway to my mouth.

The sensation in my abdomen moved to my chest. It was irritation plus nausea plus typhoid and a little of something else. Maybe I need water, I thought.
I reached for the glass of water and gulped a mouthful. It was then I understood what the mysterious sensation was. I rushed to the bathroom, my hand over my mouth. And for the next five minutes I returned everything I had taken…. and more.

I felt so drained; I could hardly stand up straight. My vision was blurred and I could not see a thing. Aunty Funke was in the kitchen still drumming up stuff. I groped for the walls trying to feel my way to the living room. It was horrible. Everything in my system felt like it belonged somewhere else.

For a few minutes I felt nothing. Absolutely nothing. When I came to, I was lying on the living room floor, Aunty Funke and her kids hovering over me.
I had fainted.

I was given half a cup of *Agbo to drink. The herbal mixture confused me, it was so bitter. I crawled back to bed, hoping to sleep right into the middle of next week!

It was a terrible night. I thrashed around, unable to sleep. My dreams were haunted; I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was in trouble.

I woke up to the tune of a message alert on my phone Ah! a welcome distraction from the throes of pain. I read the message and blinked. I read it again to be sure I hadn’t added hallucination to my list of illnesses.

“You are invited for the final test and interview session. Venue:15, Industrial avenue Iluepju, Lagos.
Time: 5pm , Saturday, 7th November.
Please be punctual.”

I looked at the time, 7am. I looked at the date 7th. Today is 7th!? Okay, calm down, I told myself. The month, yes that’s it. The month is wrong. I looked at the calendar. Oh my gosh! It’s November!

My mind raced. Jos is like 13 hours away from Lagos. How will I ever get there on time?
What if I *‘stab’ this interview? Ehn? Risk losing the job? It’s a multinational company o! After taking four different tests, for which I had to travel to Lagos at 8k per trip on my meager corper’s Alawi? Ah! Nothing dey happen. We go rough am die!

I jumped up, about to dash to my room to get ready when I felt a headache the size of World War 2. I cradled my head in my hands again and calmed down. I shall live and not die o. Lagos here I come.

I hobbled to the living room to talk to Aunty Funke.

An Hour and half later, I was in a cab on my way to the very 'dry' Jos airport. The airport ground was so 'dry', I wondered if planes landed there at all. I booked my flight at twelve thousand naira, much to my chagrin. Departure was for 12 noon. I had about three hours to kill so I stretched out on the lounge seats and caught some Z’s.

It was my first time on a plane. Except for the very uncomfortable pain in my ears, it was a great trip albeit too short. I even made a friend who I found was a member of my church in Lagos and a native of Bukuru where I was serving, neat huh?

I got home at about 2pm thanks to Lagos traffic. By this time, I noticed I was feeling much better. The typhoid had probably seeped out through my ears. At 5pm sharp I was at the venue of the interview.

The e-test was first. I tried my best but the math was difficult. I never liked math.
Everything else went well. The co-ordinator told us the marks will be mailed to us the very next day. I rushed to the cyber café the next morning. The connection was poor and I was so impatient.

Could this be what I’d been waiting for? A job? Just three months into *service year? I would move back to Lagos straight up.

I was so excited I almost forgot my password.

The subject of the mail caught my eye. I clicked in and read hurriedly……

Time seemed to freeze as all the excitement I had built up gradually dissipated. I swallowed noisily and got up slowly. My sister, who had accompanied me, was at a loss for words. She tried to encourage me.

“C’mon. It’s not the end of the world now.” Those were her words.

I nodded slowly as we made our way back home.

Jos, here I come…...


*Bukuru - a surburb of Jos city, the capital of Plateau State, Nigeria.
*Yoruba - a large tribe in southern Nigeria.
*Akamu - a local meal make from corn, much like custard.
*Agbo - a herbal blend used to treat common illnesses like Malaria and typhoid.
*Ajuwaya - a term used to describe the Service Year.
*Stab - a term used to describe boycott of an activity.
*Service Year - a compulsory one year period of National service for University.
graduates, usually in a different state from that of their residence.

Monday, June 21, 2010

I quit!(?)

I sit huddled up on the love seat, tears flowing. Staring at the bare wall on the far end of the room, I ignored the shadows cast on the wall by movements out side my window. My mind was in turmoil. I looked around the house, five years and I hoped I’d still be counting but I’m not sure now.

I caress my wedding band, turning it round and round on my finger. I remove it and hook it to my necklace, like a pendant, close to my heart.

What will it take to make it work?

I remember when it all started; I just knew this was what I wanted. Barely out of the university, was I so eager to marry Steve. I believed he was every thing I wanted. Mum thought it was too soon. We had only been dating for 6 months.

“Hold on for one year and you’ll be blessed many times over” she said.

Should I have waited? Will it have helped? Will things be different now if we had wedded after Christmas like we originally planned?

The questions swim in my head.

I switch on the television. Too much thinking is making me sick. I flip through the channels, nothing good on a Wednesday evening.

Maybe it’s because I haven’t had a child. Steve loves children; I see it when we have Derin’s kids over. But that’s not my fault. The doctors say we’re both okay.

The tears keep flowing fast; I blow my nose hard, feeling a slight headache in my temples. I rise from the seat to turn off the lights in the room. My eyes catch something as I sit back down. I see a flicker of light from the table where I have my keepsakes. I move towards the object bending down to pick it up.

Its a little velvet bag with a shiny logo. I open the bag and let out a soft sigh. Relief washing over me, no longer able to stand, I dropped on the floor, crossing my legs.
Inside the bag are little red beads, hundreds of them.
My mother gave it to Steve and me on our wedding day, with a little illustration. She had us remove a bead and return it.

“Shake it together and remove the same bead from the lot” she said.

We looked at each other and burst into laughter.

“That’s impossible, Mum” I said, laughing.

“Good. Now that you know, when you feel like giving this all up remember It can only be over when that lone bead turns up” and she shuffled away.

I remember it like it was yesterday. My sweet wise Mum. I close my eyes and lean on the bed thinking how impossible it is for me to give up now.

Steve should still be at work.
I shuffle over to the computer and begin typing an email. I pour my heart out in a few words.

Dear Steve,

I’ll be waiting today so we can have a heart to heart. This is really hard but I’m willing to make it work. I’ve decided giving up on us is not an option, at least not for me.

I love you,


I sigh, hoping he at least catches it on his blackberry

Back on the bed, I fall asleep almost immediately.

A few hours later, I wake to see him at the foot of the bed, head in hands weeping. I move to his side, rubbing his back slowly. I know he likes that. He looks at me tears in his eyes, his nose running. We stare at each other and I see in his eyes what I’ve always known. Love lives here.

We sit in the dark for hours, in each others arms, grateful. Today could have been the end but we’ll start over.

I fall asleep again, right where I should be unaware of the ten paged document from the divorce courts, completely filled, lying on the bedroom floor………in shreds.


Ok, that wasn’t me o(obviously), Just a snippet of a young woman’s struggle.

But really, have you ever given up on something that made sense to you? Something you would have loved to hold onto, just because you lacked the inner strength to persevere and keep trying?

Quitting is easy, the consequences may be dire but you don’t know that at the time. Or maybe you do but you rationalize that it’ll take too much from you to keep trying. So you take the easy route.

It’s not just in relationships that we make such blunders. We give up on school because we fail at it sometimes. We stop trying for that job because we keep getting rejected.

The journey ahead is long and arduous, so we decide to sit and lick our wounds.
But there was never a victory without a battle and the cross always comes before the crown.

Heard all these before? I’m sure. But think deeply about it the next time you find yourself at the threshold of a destiny decision.

The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart, how much more the reward?


Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Hottest, Finest Bible Dude Contest!!!

So there’s this thing that’s been going through my mind. Indulge me here. What if there was a contest to determine the finest bible dude ever? You’re probably wondering what on earth I’m taking about.

Well, I’m organizing a contest to determine who the finest, hottest dude in the bible is (or was) :D Judging will be based on physical attributes as described in the bible o!
If not, I know we could make Namaan look like a six-pack-sporting hunk in leprous flesh. :D

So some names readily come to mind. Are you thinking what I’m thinking?
‘Daaaavid’…. Almost every one will wanna start from him. Ok let’s see.

1 Samuel 16:12
“Now David was ruddy (had a healthy appearance), and had a beautiful countenance, and good to look upon.”

Ok, so David was fine, if you like the innocent boyish looking type. :D

Let’s move on. Next on my list would be….. ‘Absaaaaalom’. Oh Dang! I’m sure you don’t want to hear that name. Absalom? The usurper? the sick dude who slept with all his father’s wives and concubines? The murderer who killed his brother? Hell no.
But puhleaseee, the guy was fineee!. No beefing.

Check him out here, 2 Samuel 14:25 -26.
“There was no one praised for his beauty like Absalom. From the sole of his feet to the crown of his head he had no blemish. When he shaved his hair (every year) it weighed two hundred shekels.”

Phew! Am I hyperventilating or what? Think of all that in today’s terms and you have a ‘hottish’ bloke on your hands.

Ok, one more. You’ll most definitely like this one…… ‘Joseph’. Hmm, hmm. I won’t even waste time praising all his character qualities. You already know them.
But what about his physical attributes? Ok, so the bible doesn’t really describe him in so many words but he must have been a knockout, don’t you think? Mrs Potiphar practically came drooling after him like a puppy in heat.

Ok entries closed. I’m the judge here so the winner is..........



So I think he won. But he’s still a jerk as far as I’m concerned. All that betrayal couldn’t make him a jewel in my eyes.

Get my point? Looks are not even half of what they’re cracked up to be. But we don’t wanna hear that these days. We have these stereotypes. He’s got to be fine, tall, dark and handsome. She’s got be shapely, a head turner. But does that make us secure?

Haba! Will a six-pack pay the bills? Does a 36-24-38 guarantee a great mother and a faithful wife?

The content is more important than the container, but that’s ‘Greek’ in this time and age. But it won’t be long before we realise a prize-winning container could be full of crap (excuse the harsh word) and we can’t understand why people on the outside still find it attractive.

It’s not impossible to find it all in one location. Quality content in a stunning container, many have. But isn’t it best to search first for quality content, then the show-stopping container will most definitely be a great bonus.

So, waiting to find quality content ‘by force by fire’ in a runway-worthy container? You could be wasting years on the sidelines.

Searching for a mouth watering container with no thought whatsoever for the content? Be afraid, be very afraid!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Fear Factor

So here I am. Taking my time and loving life. Sometimes I think I’m the only one who has had to go through ‘phases’ in life. From ‘scaredy cat’, to 'learning to trust God and be strong'. But we all have to go through what we have to, to get to where we have to be. The trick is to love the journey we’re on (I wish I’d always known this, would’ve saved me a lot of stress along the way).

So, have you ever had a morbid fear? Of something, anything? The darkness? people? talking to a crowd? exams? sickness? performing? the thought of death?
How did you feel when you finally stopped torturing yourself? 'Cos carrying around such needless fears is self induced torture. Believe me, you don’t need it.
Picture 2 Timothy 1:7, it about sums it up.

So I know this ‘lil girl who had to struggle through her peculiar fear. Now grown and wiser, she reminisces.

I stood in front of the class, my hands tightly clutching my book; I stared at my toes as tears trickled down my face. The class was still vibrating with the laughter that followed my biology presentation. I had totally flopped. My hands shook uncontrollably and my voice trembled. I had barely made out the words I had so carefully studied well.

“This is just the reason why I ask you to read thoroughly and properly. You messed up!” Mrs. Toke, the biology teacher said, looking at me with disdain, “How can you not explain the simple process of photosynthesis? I mean, I can’t understand it” she shook her head in her stylish characteristic manner.

I shyly took my seat after she was done lambasting me. Thoroughly embarrassed I placed my head on the desk and sobbed quietly.

Grace was next for her presentation. She sprang up from her seat impatient to begin. She spoke on Excretion and the formation of urine. Her voice rang out clearly and confidently. I felt more ashamed than ever. Why couldn’t I be more confident like that? I knew these things, I could write them down, I even explained them to Nike the night before, but in the heat of concentration, when all eyes are fixed on me, I lose composure, my knees wobble and my tongue goes dry. It feels terrible.

After the day was over, I rushed into my four man room in the large Girls hostel, almost knocking down Senior Tutu the house prefect who was also occupying the same room.

“Whoa, you. What’s the matter?” Tutu asked gripping my shoulders.

“Nothing” I said sobbing, trying to avoid her gaze, my head bobbing up and down. Senior Tutu was having none of it.

“You’re crying, baby girl this is too much to be nothing. Come, talk to me. What’s up? Did something happen at school today?”

She pulled me to the bed and wiped my face.

I took a deep breath and looked up; my eyes red, my face tearstained and my nose running.

“Remember the biology class I told you I had today?”

Tutu nodded, “The presentation”

“I did badly. I couldn’t talk. I was so scared. Everyone kept staring at me. I started to stammer and, and ……”I burst into a fresh round of tears, my chest rising and falling rapidly.

“Calm down Abiye, don’t beat yourself up, I can see you’re very upset about this, hmm. I want to tell you a secret. But I’ll only tell you when you’re calm. Ok? Do you want to hear it?”

I nodded.

“Good. Go take a shower. Come back, and then we’ll talk”


Tutu’s secret sounded daring.

“Before you do anything, believe that you can. I had the same problem in my junior classes; I used to be the class rat, scared of her own shadow. Things changed when I challenged myself. I made a few more mistakes but I learned from them.
Prepare, yes, but believe that you can do it. Don’t care about anybody sitting out there. They really don’t matter, what matters is that your work is done and you leave a good, lasting impression. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Laugh at yourself, if you must but ask for another chance to do it right, you won't be denied. Challenge yourself. Don’t wait till there’s a task, push yourself out. Get in your teacher’s face if you must but don’t be rude, she will admire your courage and take you seriously. Be prepared to make mistakes but get up every time you fall. Don’t be…….”


“AB! What are you doing there burning daylight? It’s your turn girl, boardroom, now!” Tomi’s voice could hush an army.

I scrambled up and looked around.

‘Hmm,I must have traveled back in time’ I thought, smiling and shaking my head.

I looked at Tomi who seemed like she’d just had an ordeal.

“What happened? Was it tough?”

“My dear, ‘o gbo mi’ (it was hard), but trust me now, I did my thing!”

“Yes o!" we shared a high five.

"I gat to go in now. See ya later”

I packed my materials and headed for the board room.

"Break a leg." Tomi called after me.

I reflected on where I was coming from and my heart warmed.

I made a mental note to buy a gift for Tutu’s new baby, as I entered the board room for my third presentation in two days, in defense of my new role as Communications Manager.

So, we all have those little, subtle fears we try hard to hide.
But really, shouldn't we be free?