Friday, December 12, 2008

Blogville's triumph



I always knew it would be something interesting that would draw me back for a 43rd post.
I am delighted that it is this.
One of our very own has lived my dream.
When Isi announced that she had finally completed her novel I knew that i just had to share the good news with you all.

It is a joy to read our many delightful scribbles.
It is even more delightful when some of our scribbles make it into print.

I celebrate the achievement of one of us.
I still expect Angelina Jolie's phone number for Christmas.
But until then this makes for a delightful pre-christmas gift.

Thank you Santa.
Thank you Isi.
Thank you Blogville.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The 42nd



I’m evolving.
I didn’t notice it at first. It crept slowly on me like the slow song of a relationship. You meet a girl accidentally at breakfast, you talk to her, you laugh at her jokes, you buy her dinner and then you wake the next morning to find out she has been your girlfriend for the last 3 years.
Well I woke up yesterday and realized that I have become a different kind of blogger.

I have no idea exactly what type of blogger I am becoming. I am unsure if this lethargy of mine is some seasonal hiccup which will change with the eventual passage of time or if It will remain, grow and eventually claim a full hold on me forcing me into the graveyard of bloggers where the once mighty—Ozaveshe, Littlemissme and lately ( dear God no) Afrobabe—now rest in undefined hibernation. I am full of hope that it is the former but caution prevents me from completely ignoring the later. Doing so would be a dangerous thing. A complete disregard for an unwelcome possibility.
Like a girlfriend who comes back home to find lingerie in her boyfriend’s bed.
Well in line with her wardrobe colors and designer but unsettling in that it happens to be two sizes too large.

I have been a blogger for over a year now.
When I joined Blogville it was for two reasons. I sought a medium in which I could share some of my insanity without the recriminating snorts of disgust or looks of perplexity that normally followed my voiced opinion. My year long sojourn has made me realize the flaw in my plan. It seems everyone else on Blogville joined for the same reasons. Now I wonder what I was thinking. A community comprised of bookworms, nerds and intellectual socialites—where did I get off thinking that I would be the lone alien in their written world. Back then it certainly left me shocked.
The discovery of a world where aesthetics was accepted and insanity condoned as Talent.
A world which I delightfully explored.
The second reason was just as important. I sought to become a better writer. I had at the time just finished writing a 60 paged short story that I was half satisfied with(I read it once and thrashed the story into some nameless folder on my hard drive). There are two things vital to writing a good book. Talent and Discipline. The way I saw it, if I could manage a year of regular blog writing then I could consider myself firmly on the path of the later. As far as talent was concerned I figured showcasing my writing would give me an idea of how good or terrible I really was.

A year has gone by and I have formed some idea on the subjects.
It has been an entertaining, if indeed slightly alarming, ride. I honestly do not think this fun ride of mine will come to an end. But that will depend a lot on my determination, resilience and creativity. Factors you would expect a boyfriend to have when he returns home one evening to meet his girlfriend of two years with her bag all packed up and the dining table all set out.
Served on his plate is the flaming red Bra.
Two sizes too large.

And so I write this fully determined to ensure that this is not my last post.
In truth there is very little to suggest that I have become a slow blogger. Looking over my archive I seem to have maintained a steady average of posts over the months. But blogging, as I have come to know it is not just about the posts. It is about the play behind the posts. The little comments we live from page to page, tiny notes that say we are here. We read you. We care about you. Notes that I have failed to deliver in quite a while.
I suppose this is what work does to you. A year ago I was a complaining student. Now I am an annoyed African struggling to fan his tiny life into a roaring start. My days seem more taken with work related matters and when I think of blogging, it is with the fond air of a period when I was able to find an hour in a week to type out the story of my last 7 days. An hour in which to go visiting dear friends. An hour to read the running debate for the week whilst laughing at the undefined flirting. An hour which, my watch now warns me is almost up.
This is my 42nd post. I write this fully confident that I shall return to write a 43rd. I am only uncertain as to when this will happen. It might be next week or next month. I do not know. What I do know is that I have deeply enjoyed the time I have spent with you and plead that you forgive my silence. My slip is not because I love you any less but because I love you more and wish to fulfill the high standards we have all, inaudibly, set for ourselves.
A line of defense that might have better served the philandering boyfriend had he decided to use it, instead of his blasé retort that the Flaming Red Bra belonged to his favorite Aunt who had visited him.
An argument whose shaky foundation was even further weakened by the fact that the last time his Aunt visited him, she was recovering from a Mastectomy.
A recovery which sadly resulted in complications and her death.
6 years ago.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

O' bummer!



It is hard to say who made the first call.
What is certain is shortly after, within the space of 2 minutes, almost a million more were made. The fact alone was hardly news in a country recording a population of 120 million. And then you took into consideration that the calls began at 3 in the morning. You marveled at the fact that it happened on a Tuesday—a working day. You gasped at the fact that the million calls spurned millions more. And then suddenly the news of the abnormality became worthy news.
The facts were these. Still exhausted from the rigors of a demanding Tuesday, millions of people were forcefully woken from their sleep. The reason was quickly explained. Thousands of miles away, in a country which had its time zone 6 hours behind ours, history had been made. The phone calls called for celebration. Reactions of delighted joy followed the breathless announcements. People called each other to spread the historic news.

I got a call that night.
Mine was for a different reason.
It carried behind it none of the general urge to share the good news which was propelling callers around the country. I was being called to be laughed at. I was the guy in the looking glass—A singular being of agnized negativity living amongst fellow humans—who nobody could understand.Simply put, I was one of those weirdoes who did not support Obama.
“You lost you idiot!” The first caller yelled.
Barely opening my eyes, having been asleep for a little over 4 hours and hence ignorant, I surmised quickly that this probably meant so also did McCain.

It was almost expected of me not to be in love with Obama.
I was rarely asked “Who do you support?”. Instead the assuming line of “You don’t like Obama do you?” was more often used. Born renegade, ever in need of interesting debate, it was not difficult to find myself on the other team against Obama.
In the beginning it was easy. I loved Hillary and completely supported her bid. This was no fickle cheer by some stranger who watches matches during the occasional weekend. This was the obsessed study of charts by a fan as he peers through glasses emblazoned with the logo of his club. My love for Hilary was no new thing. Ever since the Lewinsky era I had admired her strength, focus and loyalty. Attributes I believed no good leader could do without. With Hillary as president, and the equally intelligent ( and less philandric) Bill behind her, America could not hope for a better champion.
And then she lost.

I don’t hate Obama.
A lot of people have come to assume this and I, in keeping with my renegade image, have done nothing to correct that impression. I actually like him. I once sat with my youngest sister and watch her cry as she listened to him talk. The strength of his rhetoric coupled with the steady confident gaze is as powerful an attraction as a siren’s song to sailors. I admire his confidence and his discipline. His composure against attacks thrown at him which criticize his policies and question his loyalty. When Obama walks the stage he does it with the grace of a panther. Effortlessly charming the audience whilst leaving them with no doubt of the strength of his character. As I watched him with each passing day after his party nomination, I became more confident that if there was ever a worthy replacement to my candidate Hillary, he was it.
So why did I appear not to support him?

Very simple.
I was worried about the trend that seemed to be plaguing the world. Everywhere I turned more and more people seemed inclined to have Obama as a president not as a result of the attributes that I was in love with, but for a simpler basal trait. He was an African American. It seemed ridiculous to me that a person’s vote was based primarily on the appearance of his candidate’s skin. All over Nigeria everyone was pro Obama. Not very many people had listened to his debate and even fewer had any idea of what his policies were. Nonetheless, everyone was in complete support of his bid for presidency. Everywhere I turned I was swept with the wave of Obama-mania carried by people who had no substance behind their glee.
I pondered the logic of the situation. The irrationality of voiced sentiments. The absolute danger behind the ecumenical movement.

History warns of the blind worship of new leaders.
Hitler. Idi Amin. Obasanjo.
All three were welcomed into office with loud cheers in the streets. All three ended up being dismal failures at their jobs, spawning a sad tale of irrational murders, kidnapping and unrestrained corruption. Even more interesting was the period at which each assumed power. Their individual nations were at all time low with the economy in stutters. The general public walked with their backs hunched against the mantle of the nation’s ill health. The people were sick of the way they were living and demanded an end to their suffering. Unsurprisingly, in situations of domestic revolt the first head to be chopped of is usually the leader. The people demanded a new king. One who would fix things. One who would ease their burden. One who would bring about that which their every cell called for as it churned in the blood of wretchedness.
Change.

I believe it is possible for America to change. I, in fact, fully expect her too.
I am not worried about that. I am worried at the perception of everyone that a singular change of government is going to bring about an immediate change. 46 years ago Martin Luther king asked for a change in the country. 46 years later his wish was answered with the election of the first African American.
46 years.
America is at an all time low. Never, since the great depression, has her economy suffered as badly as it currently is. There are some who would suggest that compared to the depression of the 30’s this is even worse. That is not the issue. What is is how long the much needed revival is going to take. In his acceptance speech Obama pointed this out to everyone saying “….It might take a term to achieve this but , America, I have never been more hopeful.”(A paraphrase). I personally would have been much happier if he had used the word “confident” instead of “hopeful” but the man knows his politics. It would be suicide for anyone to promise a change of the magnitude expected by the American public. I realize that. I do not expect much to change until his second term simply because it will take years for his plans to show fruit but how many voters actually know this?

The issue of America’s health is a serious one in that it affects us all. The Terrorist can groan all they want but if they did eventually get rid of the “Infidels” like they keep threatening to do , they would wake up to find they had an abundance of unwanted goats living in pens feeding on the sparse vegetation the arab desert and occasionally swimming in pools of unused ,by virtue of its niemity, crude oil.
The truth is the well being of the world assumes a precondition that America is equally well. If the United States falters (as it has) then inevitable other economies world wide will falter as well. (As it did.)
If a country’s well being is assumed as important to the health of the world then it follows that more attention be given to the leader of said nation. More thought should be paid to the decision of a successor than the color of his skin.
Barak Obama is an impressive man with incredible potential. And yet I dare say that were this not so—if by some weird chance some idiotic African American with the backings of the Democrats was nominated as presidential candidate—the just concluded wave of singular trait worship ,coupled with the desperate need for change, would have swept him just as overwhelmingly into office.
This is not impossible. How else did George W. Bush get elected president?

Hasn’t the time come when people are more concerned about what the candidate can do for the country and less about who he is? Today the media announces that the election was not about race. I beg to differ. It was mostly about race. If indeed the well being was chief in the minds of the American public then Obama might never have survived the primaries. The polls show that Obama was voted in by an overwhelming number of the black and young demographic. If ten were to be picked and asked what informed their decision 9 of them would reply with words associated with “Change”, “African American” and “being cool”. In an election designed to select the leader of the free world it is absurd that this is what it boils down too. The cosmetic plebeian perception of the masses. A selection based more on racial profiling than on the candidate’s official qualification for the position being lobbied.

Do not get me wrong.
I believe there were millions of people who made an informed decision to vote for Obama. In all likelihood there was very little in way of preventing a Democratic return to power. The Republicans had done such a good job destroying the virtues of the nation that the people would have had to be extremely blind to have returned them to power. Obama’s victory was surprising not because of the Party’s triumph but because of the person who the Democrats approved to ride their Seabiscuit.

The very play of sensation against sensibilities was evident in the final lap. Barack Obama picked a vice president because he understood that, for the few Americans out there who were not caught up in the hebdomadal countdown to possible history being churned by the media, his foreign policy and knowledge was reason enough to lose him some of their votes. Hence the choice of Biden—a man designed to satisfy those who demanded enterprising leaders instead of entertaining one. Senator Mc Cain on the other hand astutely realized that where common sense was involved he would be hard put to gain a following outside that which he already had ( The diehard republican faithful.) and so he seized on the genius idea of riding the wave of sensationalism. Sarah Palin was a good counter to Obama’s social fame. With that singular act Mc Cain sought to pull with him more people. People from the demographic where race, sex and a candidate’s glass were good enough reasons to get voted into office. And unsurprisingly, up until the financial meltdown his daedal plan was actually working.

I argued with people to make them think.
A time must come when we make decisions based on individually contemplated review and not on the hand painted presented worth given by the media and ultimately the majority public. There must come a time when we vote with reason. There must come a time when a man’s rhetoric, as charming as it might be, will not be enough to sway our decision not to support him if his mettle does not charm us accordingly. Eloquence is expected of leader. Fustian and witty rhetoric is the trademark of a politician.
Being a successful leader requires the ability to charm your followers.
Being a successful follower requires the strength to look through the charm and point out the murk that exists beneath—if any. If we do not study our leader we end up with the Hitlers of the world.
A nation is only as strong as its people.

I am delighted with Obama’s victory.
I am excited about what it stands for.
My only wish was that his victory was more as a result of confident belief in the man and less on the public need of hope and the infantile decision to change the history books just because…we can. Obama sought to be elected as president but instead got an approval as a savior. I look forward to his administration and pray that the American people find patience with him. Something they normally would have had, had their decision to vote for him been based on a realistic idea of what he could achieve and not (as it mostly was) on a dream of some Messianic president who would fix everything with his African wand in his very first year.

Writing this blog the irony of my situation does not evade me.
Many of the people trapped by sensationalism do not read. They are dependent more on the word shared on the streets and the glitz of cameras. Writing an article complaining about the social situation is an exercise drenched in futility. The only people who will ever get to read this are people who really do not need too. People who are used to reading and listening and then thinking.
There is little more I can do but that which I have always done. Persist in my role as a part time renegade—Challenging commonly accepted truths in a bid to make people search for the ingrained reason that makes it true. If it makes me appear a hater of Obama and spurs them on to find reasons to effectively counter my assumed disloyalty then I shall have done society some small service.
Come January I shall welcome Obama into office with a content smile.
But deep in my heart shall lurk the dark worry that despite thousands of years of painful experience the human race is still terribly fickle. Still worryingly pliable to the whims of the majority and the circumstances of the time. Particularly in moments of crisis. History will always be a willing teacher as long as we keep returning for the same lesson.
There is very little I can do, I suppose.
Except give little lectures, annoy a few more clueless Obama supporters and answer amusing early morning calls.
It is every man’s right to vote.
I only just wish, we all voted for the right reasons.


God bless us all.

Monday, November 3, 2008

A month gone.

I blame work.
I’ve been chained to it.
It has taken upon itself the task of making me a better person. It swings at me every morning−forcing me out of bed−Drawing from me moans which, given the early hours of the morning, might be mistaken as erotic moans of protest against a continuance of coital activity. It goes with me when I go to the bathroom watching as I struggle not to pass out on the loo. I take a cold bath in the shivering cold of the morning praying that come sunrise, my day will be a lot easier. It’s usually too early because most of the time God is asleep and doesn’t hear my prayer.
Lately I have been considering the annoying possibility that maybe he does hear my prayer. Maybe he just reads my prayer and then tosses it aside with an unconcerned chuckle as he moves over to attend to prayers from his current favorite son−Some big eared humanoid that goes by the unimpressive name of Obama.
If God does have a hand with the workings of my last month then I hope he realizes that, unlike Job, a couple of hundred sheep will do nothing to soothe me. It probably will take a thousand of sheep. Each with an attending and obedient shepherd girl (preferably dressed in French maid outfits) and an accompanying secretary.
The 100 cars are a given.

So yes.
My ranting aside, there lies the reason behind my month long silence. I have been working. In the last one month I have visited 4 different states. Some for only a night and some for more than a week. The two most important of these visits would be Abuja (The source of my last month's headache) and Bayelsa, home of the only other thing that takes residence in my mind aside from work. Andromeda.

Two weeks ago I was in the Nigerian Senate. In retelling this tale it has come to my attention that whenever I mention the fact that the last one month I have being doing some work for a Senator, people gasp with delight, roll their eyes and proceed to peek out the window in search of the flashiest car--which no doubt ( Nigerian logic dictates ) would be mine.
I hope I won’t have to put up with that here.
Yes I did do a bit of work for a Senator, but sadly (so says my mum) my life is pretty much the same. I was given none of those insane payments that NTA seems to talk about so much. In fact, if anything I was actually underpaid. A fact that didn’t bother me then because I was counting on the fact that work for a Senator would look pretty impressive on my resume not to mention open further avenues to more lucrative ( think high profile) work.
The Jury is still out on whether that was a smart idea on my part.

By far the most interesting part of my senate sojourn was sitting with a Senator’s Aide and some other important people and listen to them groan about how lazy some Senators were. It amazed me because their irritation and concern was genuine. They really wanted to do some honest work to help Nigeria. It greatly helped repaint the image I had of our Nigerian senate. One that involved parties behind closed doors and nonstop wild bacchanal orgies. Hope it appeared still floated in the halls of Epimetheus. She was just taking to bloody long to get things done.

The second part of my interstate travel involved Andromeda.
There are three reasons why I hadn’t blogged about her much.
1.) I was worried about jinxing what we had. Call me old fashioned but I have come to experience that when something is too good to be true, talking about it will probably make it disappear. I am yet to get over the shock of Santa Claus. You don’t want to get me started on Santa Claus.

2) Probably even more worrying was the fact that I really didn’t know what we had.
True; we like each other.
True. We had spent the last 4 months hanging out every weekend (save two weekends when she had to travel).
True. We had become very good friends.
True. We had broken the MTN texting record 7 times (our current record stands at 253 messages sent in one day).
And yet despite all this established truth I was uncertain as to where exactly our relationship stood. Or where it was headed too.

3) I hadn’t blogged much about her because--well-- I hadn’t blogged much.

And so it was that three weeks ago I took a trip to Bayelsa to see Andromeda. My intentions varied but chief on the list was a determination to have some sort of definition given to our relationship. I had to figure what exactly the last 4 months between us was. What it had been. And what it was going to be. A month of being prodded by work had thought me the merits of efficiency. I was going to Bayelsa to see Andromeda. I was going to do something about our relationship status. It just didn’t make sense that I would wake up in the morning only to spend the rest of it in a dream involving her. My friends had stopped answering my calls because (they claimed) I was no longer fun.
One way or another something had to change.

I spent 4 days in Bayelsa.
IN retelling this tale it worries me that whenever I get to this part the listener gives out a gasp (something between shock, delight and surprise) and immediately looks at my fingers in search of some glittering ring. Romance it seems lurks in the hearts of most Nigerians and nothing makes better gossip than a hasty engagement.
Really! It’s so ridiculous at times I wonder at the sanity of most Nigerians. I blame Nollywood. Fortunately I will not have to put up the same with the Blog folk. There is something to be said for anonymity. Gasp might be uttered out there in cyberspace but I am not obliged to hear it. If a tree falls in the woods and no one hears it. Has it fallen?
Rhetorical.
SO yes. I spent 4 days in Bayelsa. Yes we came to some sort of understanding. Yes I did not work those lovely 4 days. Yes it is an interesting story.
I see your eyes all widened with interest. What was the nature of our compromise you wonder? How did my four day sojourn end?
Well I’ll tell you.
Or rather. I would tell you. Except I don’t want to have it jinxed.
Yes Jinxed!
Haven’t you been reading?
You really don’t want to get me started on Santa Claus.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Date




Forgive me.
I have been so so busy.
This is not even a real post.
I wrote this story last year and decided to post it to fill for my silence.
I miss you all.


I was in love with Michelle Adebayo Halima Okoronkwo.
No, her name didn’t bother me one bit, which is one way I sensed my love was sincere.
This wasn’t some infatuation. I totally loved her. I dreamt of her when I watched the evening news. I smiled at her image as I brushed my teeth. When I put ketchup on my fries I squirted out her name all over my plate and stared in hungered lust. Yes I was in love with her. So when she said yes to my suggestion of a date I nodded my head, asked to be excused, wobbled to the bathroom and then screamed.

I was in euphoria until the night of the date. I whistled through the office. Sang in the toilet. I gave my boss a big hug on the way out. I hi-fived the Motor bike riders on the road whenever I got to a traffic light. And helped the PHCN men, who came to cut my power lines, carry the ladder to their car. Ah. Too be in love. All was going well until the hour before my meeting with my date. I walked out of the bathroom singing “Hapuya like that”.
And then my world fell apart.

What does one wear to a date? My last date had been ages ago. I couldn’t remember what I wore. I’d been more interested in getting out of the clothes anyway. I stood in front of the mirror in my boxers and pretended that I didn’t know that I knew that I was sucking in my stomach.
What to wear? I could wear a T-shirt and a pair of jeans but would that spell being too casual? Would she think I was some unserious bloke who took our date just as flippantly?
I tossed the t-shirt aside. Perhaps not.
I gave a long look at my tuxedo. Wasn’t a tux something you only wore for a wedding? If I wore that for our date wouldn’t I be going overboard? Besides If I did wear a tux and somehow got lucky tonight would it turn out very uncomfortable when we got around to more than kissing?
I reconsidered.
Maybe I should wear something native.
Some Senegalese outfit perhaps. Would that be wrong?
Would she consider me ....Razz?
I looked at my football jersey. What if she wasn’t a Chelsea fan? There were a few of those.
Sigh.
I kept on trying different outfits. None of them seemed quite right. Some were too loud. Too bland. Too casual. Too daring. Too dirty. Too many holes.
The clock kept ticking.
What was I going to wear?
Eventually I decided to pick the first two things that my hands touched in the heap.

Ten minutes later I was at our rendezvous point-Her home. She answered the door wearing a lovely little black dress that did wonders for her figure.
“Lovely outfit.” I said.
“Thank you.”She replied with a smile and then shut the door behind her.
She looked at me. “Yours too.”
I nodded my head in satisfaction.
Not from the compliment but from what I had seen.
Just before she shut the door I had glimpsed a pile of clothes similar to the one I had left in my house. Two piles actually.
The bigger one was clothes.
The smaller one looked suspiciously like lingerie!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Blame the Storks,


When a couple of Bloggers left comments on my last post asking me to pass along their thanks to my mother for having me, I chucked to myself, gave a tut tut and promptly forgot their request. Oh don’t get me wrong. It was a noble gesture. Very kind. Really sweet. Possibly sexy if I reconstructed the reason behind their thanks but the problem with acting on their suggestions was that no one took into consideration an important fact.
My mum is unofficially insane.
She’s been insane for a while, irreparably so. Long enough for me to know that there is no way to fix it and glaring enough for me to feel occasionally guilty.
Insanity, they say, is inherited. You get it from your children.
Guess which of her kid’s is responsible for driving her mad?

Okay. That’s a no brainier.
Stop giving me glaring looks. I’m not terribly proud of the fact that I’m responsible for 6 of the 8 wrinkles on my mum’s forehead. I keep pointing out to my mum that I didn’t exactly request for her when I was in heaven. I asked to be sent to either the Gates family or the Bush family. Some angel messed up with my paper work and sent me to some place called Nigeria. Home of the world’s smartest flies, 120 million people and the oldest known fossil (found clutching a preserved bag of golden coins); Nigeria was as unlikely a choice for my earth getaway as you could find.
But just as I came to fall in love with this disorganized country, finding within it countless little pieces of delight which a quick foray would never have revealed, I came to fall just as madly in love with my mum after getting over the fact that I probably would never have a Lear Jet with which to go to school.

My mum however, as far as falling in love was concerned, didn’t fall in as easily
I tasked her sanity right from Child birth. The Doctor, a man who I never got to meet but who I still feel pity for, walked over to her and stared whilst she groaned on the hospital bed.
We’re going to have to do a Caesarian he announced to the nurses. At that point his decision was stemmed from the need to save my Mum’s life. He needn’t have bothered. He should have asked me. My mum is the strongest woman I have ever met. She is also the queen of Multitasking. She could conduct a battle in War torn Germany, watch American Idol, figure out what needed to be bought in the house for supper and still have a baby just in time to catch the return of Idols after an advert. As it turned out, his life defining decision came to define certain things in my life. If anything the resultant scar would be reason for over a hundred speeches which I would come to hear from my mum,over flogging the persistent theme “You ruined my Bikini Days!”

My mum still insists that there has to be a record of me at Heathrow airport. As a 3 year old boy I somehow managed the astonishing feat of getting lost twice in the airport whilst still holding her hand. One minute I was there beside her asking her why those white men were looking at us that way. And the next, my mum was asking those white men if they happened to have seen a silly black baby come this way.
When I was five I tried to go for a record third MIA but my mum was ready. She pretended to look away whilst talking to a cousin of mine. Through the side of her eye she watched with astonishment as I made my move. I looked left, affecting an uninterested stare at a porter, and then right. I stole a surreptitious look at her supposedly busy self, and was satisfied with her apparent inattention. Sensing that the road seemed clear for my record making escape I made a slight shuffle away from her.
I don’t know about baby records but I’m sure Heathrow officials still watch a certain video which had a certain young boy screaming from the agony of having his ears turned in uncertain directions by an enraged mother. The video is probably filed under the folder “Barbaric acts of love by Africans.”
An hour later though I was on the plane heading back to Nigeria. The stewardess was conned by my toothy request to see the pilots flying the plane. My mum didn’t even protest. I got to seat in the cockpit with the Pilots whilst the white fools joked about “how solid a chap I was.” And how “great a pilot I would be in the future”
My mum didn’t smile when I returned. Maybe she was hoping the self eject button would malfunction and launch me back to heaven.

I was a confusing bundle of extremes.
My mum had come to happy terms with my brilliance at primary school. It was one of the few good sides to training an extremely mischievous child. Which was why she was shocked when she stumbled unto me lecturing the neighbors kids that a Gecko grew into a lizard which grew into a chameleon which grew into an alligator and inevitably into a Crocodile.
The kids next door stared with alarm at our fence which had lizards running everywhere and shivered with the thought of what it would be like in another 2 years when we had over a 100 crocodiles leaving in our backyards. When one of them found a Gecko crawling on the walls of his parlor his parents didn’t understand why he screamed so loudly.

I drove my mum crazy.
It’s an accepted fact now. Back then she fought hard against it. She refused to scream in frustration when she found me opening up our Black and white television because I wanted to fix it and add color. She refused to break out in tears when she realized that for the last month I had been flinging my uneaten Eba behind the bookshelf and waltzing to the kitchen with a cheery “I’m done.” Just so I could return to watching TV.
And when I replied to her request to put the machete away that the item in question was pronounced “Muh Shet ee” and not “Ma Chet!”—And could she repeat her request with the current pronunciation this time—she struggled really hard not to bury the machete in my neck.

We joke about it now.
She talks about how difficult a kid I was. How exasperated I used to make her feel. I laugh at her and pretend that I really can’t remember. It’s all an act. I really do. I remember the night I accidentally mixed her reserved 20 liters of petrol with 5 liters of kerosene. I remembered how angry she was when she worked in on me smoking the stub of a cigarette left by a guest. I remember how confused she used to be when I would be selected by Sunday school to represent them in Church quizzes saying I was by far the smartest and best Christian they had. I laugh as she jokes about these moments and I marvel at the resilience she showed through it all. Lord knows I wouldn’t have stood for it. I would have invited the kid for a trip to Lagos. Pulled over in the middle of the highway and toss his sorry butt unto the smarting tarmac. Fortunately my mum was much nicer. She just hung in there and got very very very good with the cane.

Every year my mum asks me if she is getting her Jeep.
I and my other siblings joke about it. (No I wasn’t the only child. There are 4 of us). We have all come to the decision that until we get our mum the Jeep she craves she never truly will forgive us for driving her mad. My younger brother, who gave my mum one of the remaining two wrinkles the week he was suspended for cooking corn stolen from a teacher’s farm, joked about it last month. We are getting weary of joking though. We have decided that next year we will seriously consider fulfilling the woman’s request even though she already has two and a half cars ( don’t get me started on the 20 year old Nissan she refuses to sell.). It is the least we can do, my sister said to me. I agreed with her, my mum has done a lot more than put up with us. She has sought to make us proud.When my mum teased my sister last year to consider getting married soon, my sister retorted that she wouldn’t consider the idea unless the invitation card sported the words “The family or Dr. Mrs. Thigszerlty..”
5 months later my mum registered and begun her PhD program.
“That woman self.” My sister groaned to me. “Now I have to get married.”

So yes.
I will pass on all your thanks.
But I’ll need to do it in a much grander way. Simply saying thank you to a woman who we ( my siblings and I) collectively drove mad might not be enough. We need to do something to show that we are madly in love with her. That we are grateful to her for her persistent and occasional humorously role in our upbringing. (“AIDS is not like love” she once told us. “It is forever!”)
My sister has announced that from next month we shall all mandatorily chip into a “Mummy Present” foundationesque account which she is going to open. I am okay with the idea. Even better I am delighted with it. It is the least I can do to show my love for a woman who treated me with unbelievable patience in the midst of baffling stupidity.
I remember once I stood beside her in the kitchen as she strove to teach me the secrets of cooking. I watched as she stared the Jollof rice with a wooden spoon.
“Don’t stir the food with a metal spoon in a metal pot. The rice will just start burning.” She informed me.
I nodded my seven year old head in silent acknowledgment.
“What happens..” I asked. “If you stir it using a Plastic spoon in a plastic pot?”

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

For Her.



10 years ago she asked me to write a story.
It wasn't for her. She wanted to enter it for the Commonwealth Short Story Competition. Excited with the idea i grabbed my pen(The good old days before the keyboard.) and proceeded to write as she requested.I ended up writing three short stories which she submitted.
I waited 6 long months for the result.
And i didn't win.
I felt miserable that day. I sat dejected in front of my meal angry with myself for letting her down. Angry with myself for putting my hopes up.
She walked into the room and, noticing my depression,came over and gave me a hug with a soft chickle.
"You're so silly." She said. "They were all good stories. You're a winner in my books."
It took me a while to grasp what she meant.

Today i seek to honor her.
Thinking of what to write,I came to the realisation that i had no idea how to go about expressing my love for her. Words seemed mere beside all she had done for me. Nothing I thought of seemed fitting enough.I wanted something she would love and approve off. Something that told her how much i valued her contribution to my life.
It shouldnt have been dificult.

It took a lot of digging within my box but i finally found them.I pulled out one of the three stories I had written for her. I laughed as I read it. Looking at it now i see how i never could have won.
And yet I did win in a lot of ways.I won a valuable lesson in life.
Never to let my failures get to me.
And she taught me that lesson.


I am posting his for her without correcting my old mistakes.I am proud in my flaws because they can only mean i can get better.I am humbled by the fact that despite my flaws I always been perfect to her.
I am here because of her.
I am me because of her.
Happy Birthday Mum.
This one's dedicated to you.


....................

I ran through the woods.
Cutting out paths were none existed. Branches whipped back slapping against my skin. I had cuts in so many places, I had lost track of where. I could feel the cold trickle of blood but not the pain. There was no time for pain.
All I could feel was fear.
Galvanizing fear.
They were trying to kill me.

Thus far they had been unsuccessful. Perhaps as a result of lack of skill. Perhaps as a result of my luck. Whichever it was, one was bound to soon outweigh the other. The end would come soon and it would star either a blood-spattered me or a dead and still blood-spattered me.
I loved the injured living me idea better and so I ran faster, ignoring my wounds. They would eventually heal once I escaped.
Not if.
I would escape.
They had thrown caution to the wind. Bullets were being fired at me and places where “me” might have been.
I stumbled and fell just in time to avoid a bullet that clunked into a tree above me.
How many where there?
Three, four, five.
I didn’t know.
I was certain of three I had seen. Fleeting glances, but they had stuck. One had a red shirt on and the other two were dressed in army fatigues. I was also certain that there was another ahead of me. Possibly two.
Three, four, five men trying to kill me.
I leaped successfully over a boulder that appeared from nowhere. Behind me, I could hear the panting and curses of the men. They were tiring. I was losing them. There was a secret cave half a mile ahead. If I could just reach it. Perhaps this would be over.
Perhaps.
But first, I would have to reach it. Another bullet whizzed by me. A quick streak of light on my periphery. They were hungry,
Must run faster.
I didn’t want to die.
My life was measured by seconds. It had been four minutes since the first shot was fired. A life time ago.
As I took a measured leap over a log that lay in my path, I felt a blurring pain in my leg and realized that I had been hit. I screamed.
In shock? In fear? In pain?
All three?
I stumbled, attempted to keep up with my pace and then I fell.
I refused to yield. I tried to crawl.Ignoring the growing pain. There was no time to stop and cry. I had a plan. All I needed to do was complete it.
Up ahead of me there was a cave. If I could get to it …..
Perhaps I could hide.
Perhaps I could live.
I swore to myself.
I would live.
I would not die.
The harsh rusting of leaves warned of their impending presence. Seconds later three men burst through the woods. Red shirt was one of them. None of the other two wore fatigues.
There were five.
I watched them approach with loathing. Strangely, I had no fear. All I felt was blinding hatred and anger.
“We got him” Red shirt said. He was panting. Out of breadth.
I made him run. I thought to myself. A spasm from my gunshot wound almost blinded me with pain. I gritted my teeth. I would not scream in front of these men.
These monsters.
Murderers.
No. I swore to myself again. I would not die.
I would live.
“Not yet!” Another said reaching for his gun.
I stared at him with hate.
I would live.
He fired.
I died.
Leaving the woods, one deer shy.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Erebus.



It was hard to place when he died.

A minute earlier I had stood unnoticed beside him on the edge of the road.
He was waiting for the traffic lights to turn red so he could safely cross. We were not alone. Other pedestrians hovered around. It was a couple of minutes after 4 and most had the tired look of frustrated workers who would give anything to stay at home and explore the possibilities of regaining sanity. With slightly hunched backs, they clutched their worn out briefcases impatiently, their eyes focused almost permanently on the lights. The god for the moment were those traffic lights.
His rule was law. Right now his rule was red. They awaited his green.
Like them he had a briefcase as well. A worn out leather affair which sported a tiny sticker announcing ,to any who cared to read, that he was employed in those most ambivalent of jobs. Logistics and Accounting Resources.
If the tell tale wires didn’t betray him, his gentle bob from side to side let everyone in on his estrangement from this noisy impatient world. He whistled inaudibly as he listened to some song on his IPod.
He went everywhere with the IPod. I had heard him say a couple of times that it kept him sane at work. Having an IPod, he often said, made his life a lot easier.
It certainly helped killing him.

The truck roared down the road flying towards the junction. Eager to round up for the day, the driver didn’t pay attention to the traffic light as he approached. That was his first mistake. He only noticed the red light a couple of meters before the junction. He panicked and attempted to slow down quickly to correct his oversight. He slammed on his breaks.
That was his second mistake.
The truck went into a slide. Shrieking loudly it fishtailed across the road sending neighboring pedestrians into a survival run. People screamed. The air was suddenly filled with shouts of warning, shock and Outrage. He didn’t hear any of them.
Once the lights turned green he took a casually step into the streets whistling the chorus of his favorite song. He was feeling in a good mood and why not? In another 5 minutes he would have been home.
If the truck hadn’t hit him.

3500 kilos of uncontrolled metal slammed into him. The IPod was an instant victim. It shattered beneath the force breaking it into a thousand pieces which mixed easily with his shattered bone. Pain burst into his beautiful world of music. All of a sudden his image of home was gone replaced by one of flying glass, whirling surroundings and blinding pain. The force of the impact tossed him into the air like a bean bag kicked by an angry kid. There was a stream of red as he flew. His Mind barely had time to comprehend what was happening before he hit the floor with a resounding slap echoed by the screams of horror from the pedestrians. The force of the landing cracked a rib. He slid to a stop with his leg bent at an unnaturally crooked angle, he didn’t notice it yet but he had left three of his toes behind.
Oh god he silently gasped battling the streaming pain.
And then the cars hit him.

The toss has sent him into the opposite green lane. Cars swerved to avoid hitting the sprawled man but they weren’t quick enough. Three cars ran over him. Sending his body flaying across the highway. A sickening streak of blood marking his trample skid.
By the time traffic came to a shocked stop it was over.
It was pretty hard to place when he died. In five seconds he had suffered an unbelievable sequence of physical trauma. He had so many broken bones the doctors would need to have a series of operations before they could repair him. He would be in bed for months just trying to flex his remaining two toes if he had survived. But he didn’t.
He was dead.

I made my way slowly across the street.
There really was no need to hurry. Most people were in stunned shock, others had rushed over and were crowded around his body wondering how quickly they could get him to the hospital. They needn’t have bothered. He was as dead as a stone cast into an ice pond.
I didn’t say this because I could see the gaping hole through his side, or I already knew about the fractured spine which the doctors would later find. I knew he was dead for certain because he was meant to be.
It was the reason I was here.
He
was the reason I was here.
I had come expressively for him. Like a driver waiting at the arrival airport I had come to pick him up.
I was his assigned escort angel.

I stood beside his dead body and watched his living soul come to terms with the suddenness of its release. After a couple of blinks his eyes came to rest on me. They widened in alarm.
“Am I…”
“Dead?” I finished for him. I nodded my head gravely.”Yes. Yes you are.”
He scowled at me.
“I was going to say naked. Am I naked?”
I stepped back in surprise.
“Well, no….I don’t think you are. You look okay to me. A bit hairy but that’s accepted fashion in heaven.”
He looked quickly at me.
I read the question in his eyes.
“Yes.” I confirmed. “You’re going to heaven. You lived a righteous life.”
He closed his eyes with what I thought was joy. I was wrong. He opened them a second later and the fury in them stunned me. He glared at me and said in an extremely clear voice.
“Sod off!”
“What?” I gasped.
“Get lost. I’m not going to heaven. Not now at least. Come back in another 50 years. I should be ready by then.” He got up and dusted himself down.
Ordinary I would have been amused. Our celestial gowns are pretty neat stuff. It was almost impossible to get them dirty. Even Lucifer (heretofore to be referred to as “whatshisface”) was impressed with it. Thousands of years of wearing it in hell and he still looked clean whenever he stopped by for a debate. But I wasn’t in a mood to talk about the benefits of wearing the celestial robe. Not when I had a soul who was claiming he didn’t want it.
He was walking away from the accident site. I ran after him quickly. For a soul who had just suffered an accident he was in pretty good shape.
“Sir …” I began as I reached him..
“Quit that. You know my name. It’s Nnamdi.” He looked across at me “Stop being so formal. You’re an angel aren’t you? When the angels came to meet Mary they didn’t say “Ma’m you’ll be handed a young Sir by Immaculate Conception. We’d prefer if you called the young Master, Jesus. Please sign here if you approve.
I gasped and looked around quickly.
He closed his eyes in irritation and kept on walking. I wondered where he was heading too.
“Sir...er…Nnamdi. We really have to go.” I said again.
“No we don’t. I’m not going anywhere. I already told you that.” He snapped at me.
“But...”
What’s your name?” He asked.
“Mourinho.” I replied.
“Okay.” He said. “Mourinho...Fuck off!”
The thing about swearing was that it wasn’t always a sin. It was so hard to decide where exactly one placed these loud exclamations by humans. Humans considered swearing as wrong and too some extent they were right. Using the lord’s name in vain was a sin. But where did you place scenarios where people asked you to go sleep with someone. It was clearly an offered suggestion. Was it a sin? That was unclear. To decide that you had to be aware of the facts surrounding the question. What was his relationship with the person who yelled “FUCK YOU!”? If it was his wife did it make it okay? If she meant it as a joke did it make it okay? Even more importantly, if it was none of the above why wasn’t it okay. When a person yelled out the words SHIT and FUCK he was deemed to be in the wrong by humans. But in the ethereal the jury was still out on how exactly it qualified as a sin.
SHIT and FUCK were body functions experienced by every human. Why was saying it a bad thing? Most humans were offended by mouthed utterances with such words and yet they smiled and laughed when they talked about words like SEXY and MONEY. Two words that had us angels cringing in our boots over the infinity of possibilities.
What was wrong with yelling out occasional words that meant nothing really? Why couldn’t a person yell out “SHIT” when he fell down a flight of stairs? When Jesus was being crucified I doubted he whistled “Whistle whilst you work.
It was a running debate amongst us Angels. When did cussing go from being an expression of emotion to a damnation of your soul?
“Damn you” was clearly a sin, but” Fuck off?
How did one handle that?

“You don’t want to go to heaven.” I asked slowly. It was the first time I had come across a soul who wasn’t excited about going to heaven. Most of the time they were eager to rush home. Nnamdi was something different.
He sighed and slowed down in front of a door.
“No... Well yes. Yes I do.”
He looked at me and walked right through the door.
We were standing in a room that appeared to be the parlor. In the corner a TV was set on some local Cartoon cable channel. The room was resultantly filled with the high pitched chatter and happy notes of kiddy fun. In a corner sat a young girl. She looked to be in her late teens. Her eyes were pale behind the glasses she was wearing. Propped up against her knee, she was reading from a book. Her look was one of intense concentration.
“I do want to go. But I can’t. Because of her .I can’t leave her behind.” Nnamdi’s eyes clouded over. “She is my daughter.”
”Your wife….” I began.
“Is dead?” He finished for me. “Yes she is, she died two years ago.”
I pretended to scowl.
“I was going to say Not naked. Your wife is not naked.”
He smiled for the first time and then broke into a chuckle.
“She’s in heaven. Dressed are you are.” I said.
“That’s good. I’m glad.” Nnamdi said staring at his daughter. “But I really can’t leave her here. I’m all she has in the world now. If you take me now who will take care of her?” He looked at me quickly “Don’t you dare say Angels!”
I remained quiet and pondered the situation.
“I’m serious Mourinho. I’m not going to heaven. I’d rather go to hell than spend one minute in heaven with my daughter left behind. She is too young to go to through life alone. I’m all she has right now. You can’t take me. I’d go to hell first” He said.
There was a loud whoosh and all of a sudden fire flashed all around us. Suddenly the room was filled with the glare of bright burning fire. I could feel the soft heat emanating from his body. I peered through the fire at the new person who had just joined us.
“My name is Michael.” Angel Michael said.
Nnamdi nodded his head. His face had a stunned look. I didn’t blame him. The chariot of fire was an incredible vehicle to behold. The burning horses pawed the ground softly. Resplendent in their flaming beauty. Talk about smoking hot.
“How come you don’t have one of these things?” he asked me admiring the burning Chariot.
I blushed.
Angel Michael caught it and frowned. I felt like kicking myself in the wings. Blushing in front of archangel. It wasn’t going to look good on my file. He turned from me to Nnamdi.
“We’re sending you back.” Angel Michael said softly.
The change on Nnamdi face was incredible. Suddenly his eyes moistened with joy, the frown on his face quickly replaced by a radiant smile.
“Don’t be too happy. Your body is in pretty bad shape. We’ll fix your spine and hasten your healing but it’s still going to take months before you’re okay. You’ll have to walk with a limp for the rest of your life.” He peered at Nnamdi.” that shouldn’t bother you.”
“It doesn’t.”
Angel Michael nodded.
“That’s good then. Here is what should bother you. It’s not easy getting into heaven. Ask Moses. All that good and he almost didn’t make it. You’re going to have to work very hard to make sure you get in a second time. The demons are unto you now. They’ll work over time to frustrate you into falling. They’ll taunt you with your condition. Anything to make you falter.” Michael rubbed a hand on one of the horses Mane. “Don’t.” He warned.
Nnamdi nodded.
Angel Michael beamed and then pulled out a parchment with an accompanying quill.
“Very well then. One last thing to do and you’re good to go. You need to sign your release form. Nothing special. Protocol you understand. Just a simple disclaimer. You are aware of your actions; you are sound of mind and in good health... of course you are. ..You’re dead. Ha Ha.”
I watched Nnamdi ass he signed whilst Michael chatted merrily.
I was moved about how much he cared for his daughter. The last three months I had witnessed acts of human sacrifices that had stirred me. I had seen men starve for their family. I had seen mothers suffer unspeakable acts of torture so they could protect their children. I had see brothers shiver so their sisters could be warm. But this… a father giving up his position in heaven just so his daughter could go through life a little happier. This I hadn’t seen. This was love.
Unquestioned. Uncontrolled. Unconditional. Uncanny.

And then it was time for him to go.
“It was nice meeting you Mourinho.” He said with a smile.
I nodded my head. I was at loss what to say to him. Goodbyes were not something I was used too.
And then I had an idea.
“Sod off!!” I said.
He broke into a chuckle, a soft rumble which grew into loud laughter. His face was contorted with mirth as he laughed really hard. He was still laughing when he vanished. I hoped his body didn’t break out into laughter in the ambulance.

“Nice guy.” Michael said. “If he survives the first five years he’ll definitely be back here.”
He tapped my shoulder and got into the burning chariot.” I’m sorry about that. Every now and then we get people who just don’t want to go to heaven yet. Most of the times we persuade them but when chaps like yours start asking to be sent to hell instead…. Well...You want to just listen to their demands and send them back in.”
I nodded my head sagely. Then a thought occurred to me.
“What did you mean by him surviving the first five years?”
Michael laughed.
“Oh nothing really. His accident was pretty bad. He’s going to need a lot of surgery before he is okay. But eventually he’ll be fine. One thing’s for sure though. He is going to be impotent for at least the next 5 years.”

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Monday, August 25, 2008

Dear Fantasy Queen.

Once every week I spend 30 minutes trying to decide what I should blog about.
This week started no differently.

I had narrowed it down to three possible contenders.
First , I considered blogging on the delightful fact that ,over the last three months, I had lost 6kg. True, It was hardly the stuff of triumphant tales but I was still happy. Three months after my mum’s scathing appraisal, I was safely back within the healthy walls of my BMI (That’s Body Mass Index thank you very much!). As far as health was concerned, my weight was normal. Even better whenever I wore a T-shirt I was paid compliments. A week ago Someone actually called me sexy. I didn’t let it get to me though. The sun was out and she probably was short sighted. But it was an appreciated compliment. Who cared if I was yet to get the required six packs demanded by the female populace ( to get that I probably would need to loose 2 more kilos and devote a month to the gym.). I certainly didn’t. It really wasn’t fair. A man had to work hard to get an appealing body. All a woman had to do was eat and the curves would appear. Curves on a woman was good. Fat settled on a man’s stomach leaving him looking like some distant relative of Santa.
On a woman it migrated gracefully to her hips leaving her the object of many late night fantasies.
The way to man’s heart was through the stomach.
I was beginning to suspect more and more that what was meant by that was one of two things.
Ignore his bulging stomach and he would fall in love with you.
Or Stuff your stomach and resultantly gain bewitichingly fantastic female hips.
Either pay little attention to his stomach or more to your stomach (and ultimately your hips and butt.)
Both would guarantee the attention and ownership of his cholesterol clogged heart.
One thing was certain. Curves on a lady were acceptable and attractive. On a guy it just was unhealthy and occasionally gay.
Men were fat. Women were just.…thick!

With my body nicely silhouetted in a T-shirt I figured blogging about my return to the appealing demographic would be a lovely idea.
It was certainly something to consider writing on.

Also worth considering was the happy situation that had developed between I and Andromeda. For the last two months we had spent every weekend together. The first three had been in a Salsa class laughing over our pathetic imitations of the dance instructors mesmerizing swivels. He swore under his breath as he struggle to make Matadors of us. Each time we failed, trampled beneath the raging bull of clumsiness and inexperience. It was fun but after the third lesson she had suggested we spent the next week doing something less tasking and still as much fun. The next weekend we met for Ice cream. We enjoyed our evening made up off slurping ice cream and chatting about our week’s tale that it pretty much became our default arrangement.
The Dance instructor didn’t miss us.
He never called back.
For the next 3 weeks she took me to her favorite ice cream spots. I have never been much of a fan of ice cream scoops but she sought to remedy that. I’ll admit I enjoyed the conversion process.
And why not? What is better than slurping ice cream with an attractive lady?
Rhetorical. You don’t have to answer Afrobabe.
The sane part of me points out that I might have lost more weight if I had abstained from so much ice cream but the whimsical side counters that what I might have gained in weight I would have lost in romantic blissful hours.
I have been lacking there lately you see.
And yes. The last 8 weeks has been fun. There was something between us two. I wasn’t sure what it was. But it was there. I was confused. I considered writing to Blogsville and asking for their opinion and advise.
It was something to be considered.

Finally a part of me longed to revisit the interesting world of Angel Mourinho. I had found myself missing him and his naivety. I wanted to see what he was up too. I had ideas of what that might be and I had hope that come this week I would share my ideas with my friends.

All that changed after Fantasy Queen’s post.

For those of you with confused frowns on your faces, Fantasy queen happens to be the moniker used by one us. She is a blogger. A delightful blogger whose page has always left me filled with interest and delight. Her last post was a still a delightful read but this time it had the added twist in that its interest was in me.

Fantasy Queen,, upon reading my recent Stolich encounter had ventured her opinion about Stolich and I.
It was not strange what she suggested—The hint that perhaps I and Stolich were more than just friends. The belief that eventually we would end up waking up one morning with 3 children and a wedding ring between us—I had heard it a lot of times and never once failed to laugh. Hearing her echo the views of people was not strange. What was strange (and eerily interesting) was she went on further to propose a speech which my eventual declaration of love (and Stolich’s grudged acceptance) would come with.
And the speech was good.
Very good actually.
So good in fact that I regret the fact that I am unable to use it.

Stolich and I are great friends with all the makings of a great romance. But Naapali and Afrobabe are right in their assessment. If I were to try an overture in a bid to ask for more she would break out into such unbelievable laughter God would wonder if he had accidentally cancelled the rapture.
As important as all this is what is important is that which I have kept on repeating.
I don’t want a relationship with Stolich. We’re like siblings she and I. I could no more imagine kissing her than I could my sister. And just as I can appreciate how lovely my sister looks without feeling the urge to make advances I am trapped in a similar lethargy as far as advances to Stolich are concerned. Stolich and I are more than friends. We’re great friends who will go through life comforted in the knowledge that in each other we have a friend , a best man and a window into the world of the opposite sexes when the need arises.

So yes. We’re great friends. But sadly we cant be more.

Despite the finality of things between us I was still deeply moved by the headiness of Fantasy Queen’s borrowed speech. I felt it would be such a waste if I let something so beautiful go to waste.
The problem with the speech was that it was tailored to only one scenario. I could only use the speech with someone ( a female) who happened to be my best friend. Since no one other than Stolich fitted that bill, I quickly realized that unless I did something drastic I would never get to use the speech.
And so I decided to do something about it.
What I needed, I immediately realized, was a new best friend. Someone whose company I could enjoy for another 2 years before breaking down into silly tears when I confessed that somewhere beneath the nights of watching movies and pillow fights I had somehow fallen madly deeply in love with her. I would look her in her eyes and read out the wordings of FQ’s speech word by word with the appropriate inflections where it was needed.
It seemed a good plan.
Much better than my idea of jumping off the second floor with an Umbrella.
Dont get me wrong,Jumping off the second floor was probably a lot safer than falling in love but the flight was rarely as nice.
I decided then that I would find a lovely girl. Make her my friend. And use the lovely speech when I realized I could no longer do without her.
I didn’t care how long it took.
Much admired actor, Billy crystal took 10 years in the classic “When Harry Met Sally.” Before professing his undying love. I would take my time.

But where to look?
Where did one find a girl who was willing to be best friends with an insanely ridiculous blogger who spent more time thinking about having a shower than he did actually having the shower?
Where did one find a girl cute enough to guarantee that I would fall in love with her?
How did one go about such adventures?

It seemed a pretty hopeless mission.
Everyone I approached seemed taken or unavailable.
Angelina was married to Brad.
Jlo was still married.
Audrey Hepburn was dead.
There seemed an unbelievable absence of volunteers.
And then, just as I was about to give up and request that blogville pick my next topic of blogging (thereby saving me another thirty minutes of weekly thought) I noticed an interesting fact.

I have only met two bloggers in my life time.
One of them is Fantasy queen. We met once. A contrivance by mutual friends of ours. We met at some Café in the palms. The café was sited a few feet from the movie theatres. Seating there I was guaranteed a first row glimpse of the beautiful girls that were on their way to watch movies. Dressed from outrageously brassy outfits to the demure I couldn’t deny the fact that most of the girls coming to watch movies were attractive. From my position I had a clear line of sight.
And then fantasy queen stepped into the café and sat opposite me.
I didn’t look at any other girl after that.

So here I am, months later , wondering who I could possibly become best friends with.
And suddenly I realize I know the answer to that question.
Hello fantasy Queen!
Will you be my Best Friend?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Weekend with a Friend.



Her announcements were like the jarring gong of a doomsday clock.
They first came in two weeks ago.
I was seating in my office daring the devil to make my day worse. Unfortunately for me he had just returned from Somalia and was checking up on his mail. Mine was first on the list.
A beep from my phone alerted my attention to the arrival of an SMS. Staring at the caller ID of the sender, I was already weary before I read the message.
“I’m coming in two weeks.” it said.
I’m coming in two weeks, it warned. I shivered quietly and pretended the air-conditioning was set to low. Two weeks. I thought to myself.
Two weeks! That wasn’t enough time to fully prepare .
Subsequent days were graced with like messages.
I’m coming in 11 days.
I’m coming in 10 days.

I learnt how to count backwards from 14 all over again. I made silly jokes about the messages to reduce the message’s ominous note—coming in 11 days? Must be some Orgasm—it didn’t help much.
On Day 8 it got worse. I got a call instead of a text.
“Did you get my text?” the voice demanded over the phone.
“Yes. I did. “I muttered.
“Good. See you soon.” And then the voice was gone. Replaced by a dull monotone which did nothing to lessen the exasperation I was feeling.
On day 14 my phone beeped shortly after I stepped into the office.
“I’m in town.” The message ran. “We’re meeting for lunch. Make sure you have gist.”
Simple. Straight and to the point. The text did nothing in way of warning of the insanity that loomed behind its announcement. But I was wiser.
Today was going to be a long test of patience and exasperation.
Stolich was in town.

We agreed to meet at 4pm.
The location was at a popular fast food restaurant renowned for its past brilliance in making burgers. At 5 past 4 I walked through the doors and braced myself.
She didn’t disappoint.
“CARLANG!” She screamed.
I stared at her as she walked over to me with her mischievous smile on her face. She still looked the same. Still the same rosy glow. The same confident swagger. She was still lovingly cute.2 months ago she had called me to complain that she was going fat. Looking at her, I couldn’t see where the extra lard was laid. Possibly, her butt looked bigger but I was only assuming that because some guy behind was staring at it.
She squeezed me in a bear tight hug.
“Howz my best friend?” She asked happily.
I looked around the restaurant quickly. There were over a hundred people in it and all of them were looking at us. Some things never changed
Stolich was like that. She could walk into a stadium and still draw attention..
“I’m good.” I said dragging her to the nearest table. She plodded along behind me slowing my quick exit into a comic display of couple dis-unity.
Maybe she was right about the weight gain. She certainly felt heavier.

I sat down at the table and stared at her silly face.
Stolich and I had been roommates years ago. During the period we had developed this weird mode of communication were we really didn’t need to talk to know what the other person was thinking.
She didn’t use it.
“Howz work?” She asked me with a happy grin.
Fine. I replied. And then I went on to explain what I meant. For the next 5 minutes we chatted about out individual work places. Our opinions seemed to be matching. Our bosses were idiots. Our coworkers were annoying. Hers kept on hitting on her and mine kept on slapping my back. We agreed that our salaries were at deplorable levels—A raise wouldn’t be a bad idea—but despite it all work was somewhat fulfilling.
She nodded her head in satisfaction and then gave me the look.
I knew what was coming before she asked.
“When last did you get laid?”
I sighed Inwardly to myself. There it was. 10 minute with Stolich and she was already demanding the skinny on my coital affairs.
“Er.. I don’t want to talk about it.” I said defensively. I considered dashing off to buy a burger but knowing Stolich she probably would continue the conversation at the counter.
“You don’t? What is wrong with you?” She rolled her eyes in mock frustration. “What happened to you? I used to boast about you! I used to tell my friends you were the world’s greatest lover”
“Really?” I laughed.
“Stop laughing. It’s not funny. You’ve become boring!” Stolich snapped. Her eyes retained her irritation briefly and then were replaced by something a lot worse and scary.
She smiled.
“Have you ever had sex in an office?”
I laughed at her.
“No.” I replied.
She smiled even brighter.
“Well I have. It was fantastic. Bloody fantastic. One thing we were talking and the next thing we were naked in his office.”
“His?”
“Andre.” She said.
I nodded. Andre had been her boyfriend for the last 4 months. I hadn’t met him but I certainly had heard of him. I found the fact that she was dating hilarious. She had finally broken up her 6 year relationship only to end up firmly in another barely 2 weeks later.
“Right. How is he?”
“Fantastic. It was great. I haven’t had sex that good in such a long time.”
I closed my eyes in frustration.
“I meant. How is he? Relationship wise. Are you guys happy?”
She paused to consider the question.
“I think we are. He is a really nice guy . Very funny. “Her look turned serious. “He says he wants to marry me.”
I almost broke out into laughter. One of the major reasons why she had split with her last boyfriend was because she said she wasn’t ready for marriage. Something he had been clamoring for. Now it looked like her replacement boyfriend was cut from the same cloth.
“What’s wrong with that? You’re getting old you know.”
“I’m 24!” She snapped.
“DO you remember Mother Teresa?” I asked.
“Yes. The very old nun who died years ago?” Stolich asked.
“Exactly. She was 26 when she died.”
Stolich laughed out loud at me. “You’re such an idiot.” She said.
I shrugged. She called me that every 10 minutes. Maybe it was true.
“You didn’t answer the question you know.” She reminded me. “When last did you get laid?”
“Not this month. That’s for sure.” I mumbled.
She gasped.
“You’re insane. How do you handle the pressure? You jerk off?”
I shifted in my seat uncomfortably.
“Every guy jerks off. “ I muttered. “If any guy says he doesn’t he is lying.”
“I don’t think that guy does. “ Stolich pointed out, gesturing to someone behind me.
I turned around. Seated behind us, with someone who looked like his mum, was a teenager with a cast on both his arms.
“Maybe he broke them jerking off?” She asked me with the same silly smile on her face.
“You’re impossible.” I said.
“And you are just frustrated. I can’t believe you haven’t gotten laid.”
Her voice was loud. Two girls at the table beside us heard her announcement and sniggered. I felt myself blush. I wasn’t getting up to leave until the restaurant was empty.
She laughed at my discomfort. She seemed to enjoy the fact that her teasing was getting to me. I was glad at least one of us was. I wanted to strangle her with my hands.
“DO you still Blog?” She asked.
“Yes.” I said. Delighted to get the subject on some other area of my life that didn’t require me naked and sweaty.
“Seriously? That’s neat. “Her tone took a wistful note “Do you still blog about me?”
“No.” I shook my head. “I haven’t blogged about you in a while.”
“Really? Why not.” She asked.
“Everyone started suggesting I was in love with you. Even worse they began suggesting the ridiculous idea that I was going to get married to you.”
Her eyes became guarded.
“What’s wrong with that? You couldn’t marry me?”
I am officially a klutz. Men really are from different planets. I was still recovering from the probes I had weathered concerning my sex life. I was not really thinking. I looked into her eyes and made a mistake.
“Good lord. You’re joking right? I could never marry you!”
And just like that. I hurt her.
It was there in her eyes briefly. Earlier on I mentioned that we had mastered the art of speaking without saying a word. I regretted that particular bit of skill now. I looked at her and I realized I had hurt her without meaning too. I must have sounded like a jerk.
“Because. You’re too much woman for me. Sex in the office? You’d give me a heart attack before our first anniversary.” I said quickly.
It worked.
She laughed at me.
“I think you’re exaggerating. But you’re right. I probably am too much woman for you right now. Unlike you, I happen to love sex.”
I flinched.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Exactly what it means. You need to get laid man. You’re probably so charged you’ll soon get yourself pregnant.” She laughed at her own joke. Beside us the girls at the table laughed too. I hope they weren’t laughing at me.
“I’m always at work.” I protested.
“So? “ She leaned in towards me with a mischievous grin. “You should try having sex in the office. It’s great.”
As I sat down there listening to Stolich. It struck me how different the world had come in the last 100 years. Here I was being prodded into a physical relationship by a girl who was very confident in her sexuality. Human social relationship had come a long way from the conserved relationships of later years.
Mankind had freed itself from its restraining chains. Prometheus had given us fire. We had invented fireworks.
Stolich was still talking to me. She was close enough that I could inhale the sweet musk of her perfume. She really was an attractive lady.
“It was fantastic. “ She was saying. “First we were kissing and then...”
“ I don’t want to hear what happened!” I said quickly.
I needn’t have bothered. Stolich was an unstoppable express when she sought out to be. For the next 5 minutes she recanted in detail the tale of her Office adventure.
I sat there listening.
I suspect the two girls beside us did as well.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Do Geese see God?



I could count the veins on her face.
Her skin glistened with a mixture of body oils and sweat. She had been screaming obscenities for half an hour but the last one minute it seemed like her voice had gone unbelievably higher. Her eyes were red with the fury, strain and pain from her exertions. She didn’t even have the strength to cry anymore.
She looked directly at me and screamed one loud word.
“Fuck!”
I felt my face go flush.
It started from my neck and crept into my head before settling itself firmly on my cheeks. I didn’t have a mirror but I knew how I looked to all who could see. My pale face was a perfect canvas for the bright Rudy blush on my cheek. I sighed sadly to myself. This wasn’t working out very well. I seemed to be making a mess out of everything.
I didn’t need to read the manual to know this was an uncalled for reaction.
I was not supposed to blush.
Angels didn’t blush.

“She can’t see you, you know.” A voice said from behind me.
I didn’t turn around to look. I knew already who was speaking. There were only two angels in the room. One was blushing and the other wasn’t me.
I felt him glide and stop beside me. He watched the screaming woman with a soft smile.
“Enjoying yourself, Mourinho?” Angel Legna asked with a chuckle.
I turned even redder and closed my eyes with irritation.
For those of you new to my world the following gleaned information is correct.
Yes I am an Angel and yes my name (as far as this story is concerned) is Mourinho.
The following though is incorrect.
I wasn’t enjoying myself.
I looked at the straining woman in front of me and sighed. Being an Angel was hard enough work.Understanding humans just made it a lot harder.
“She’s in pain.” I observed.
The Angel standing beside me nodded.
“She could die.” I said.
“Yes. It’s a possibility. We’re here to make sure that doesn’t happen.” He raised his eyes to the skies. “Unless otherwise ordered.”
I stared at the groaning woman in confusion. Her pain was so strong it seemed to take a viral life of its own. Infecting everyone around with some degree of her torment. I wanted it to come to an end. Soon. Even if it meant us taking her home early.
“She could have avoided this.” I asked quietly. “She actually chose to go through with this?”
“Yes. “Legna asserted. He placed a comforting hand on my shoulder. I had only recently been transferred to earth. Nigeria to be exact. Legna was my Orientation supervisor. For the next one week he was supposed to put me through the basics and help me adjust to life with humans. He had been really patient thus far.
“You don’t understand I see.” He said.
He was correct this time.
No, I didn’t.

I had only been on earth for a week and already my head was spinning from the weird traditions and decisions of humans. This was one of them.
Why did humans enjoy smoking knowing how dangerous it was?
Why did some humans like Dogs and others love Cats?
Why did they laugh and cry at the same time?
And just who exactly voted Obasanjo in as president?
Humans were a confusing bundle of exhibited oddities which lasted only long enough to startle you before they were replaced with even more startling displays of quirkiness.
“The last one week, can’t have been that bad” Legna said with a laugh.”Surely you’ve come across something that you enjoy.”
I brightened at that.
“Well. I did come across a delightful little creature. Every evening when I’m free. I sit down with it and I listen to it sing. It’s got one of the most beautiful voices I have heard. Almost as nice as the voices I sang with in the choir.”
“You’re exaggerating.” Legna said with a laugh.
I smiled. Admitting that I was.
“But it does have a lovely little voice. I could listen to it forever. “
“FUCK. FUCK.CHRIST. FUCK!”
We both winced.
I looked up quickly expecting to see a thunderbolt. The ceiling fan remained undamaged.
Across us one of the Midwives rubbed a Damp flannel cloth over her face. She softly brushed her hair back.
“You’re doing okay.” She crooned. “We can see the baby now. Take a deep breath and push.”
“It’s going well” Legna said in a satisfied tone.
I looked across at the straining woman surrounded by a Doctor and Midwives. It didn’t look like it was going well. Her breath was racing. Her face contorted in reflection of her pain.
And what was that between her legs?

“Palindromes.” Legna said.
“What?” I said in shock.
“Palindromes.” He repeated. He flapped his wings and floated softly into the air. “Do you know what they are?”
I looked up at him uncomfortably. He was dangerously close to the fan. Although I knew I was being unreasonably, I wondered what would happen if he flew into the fan.
“Of course I do. They’re sentences that read the same way forward or backwards. Like the sentence. Dennis Sinned. It’s the same thing if you read it backwards.” I said.
He smiled.
Dennis sinned”. That’s a nice example. Almost as nice as “Madam. I’m Adam!” Although in that one you have to take the spaces into consideration. No X in Nixon. That’s another nice one.” He thought for a second. “A Toyota. Race fast. Safe Car. A Toyota.
I looked at him
“What?”
“A palindrome. That’s another palindrome. Read it backwards and it still means the same thing.” He said explaining.
“I know that.” I sighed. Just because I was formerly a seraph everyone thought I was slow. “What’s that? A Toyota?”
“Oh…Right. I forgot you’ve only been on earth for a week.” He slowly soared down. “Well. A Toyota is sort of like a Chariot. Without the flaming horses. But it moves. Really fast. Human speed that is.”
“A chariot without horses?” I asked slowly.
“ Yeah. It’s called a car actually.”
“Oh!” I snapped “Why didn’t you say so. I know what a car is. I had an orientation class before coming to Nigeria.”
Legna Laughed.
“My sincere Apologies.” He landed beside me and we watched the woman for a while. I looked on with rising concern. Whatever was between her legs, it was growing. Her screams were unbelievably loud now. My feathers twitched nervously. This was going on well?
“You were wrong you know.”
“What?” I asked startled. I wondered how Legna could remain so calm. The woman was being killed right in front of me by that….thing!
“About Palindromes. They’re not just sentences you can read backwards. They’re can also be words. Like the word Gag. Or the place Aba.”
“Aba. That’s here in Nigeria right?”
“Yes. Interesting place. It’s close to Port Harcourt which is another interesting place. The way things are going over in Port we might send you there really soon. Last week local Militants kidnapped an Angel.”
“What?” I gasped out loud. I looked around quickly. The doctors and Midwives hadn’t heard me. The woman seemed to be looking at me though.
FUCK ME!” She screamed.
Legna laughed.
“I’m joking about the kidnapping. “ He said.
“Er…. Okay.” I said. My face was doing the red thing again. I looked nervously at the woman. I wondered if…
“She can’t see you.” Legna said again with a chuckle. “You’re just in her line of sight.”
I nodded wearily. I didn’t want to move. The view here was fantastic. And whatever that thing was it now had hands.
I sighed to myself and looked at Legna.
“You were saying? About Palindromes.”I muttered.
Legna nodded in approval.
“Right. It’s not only words that can be Palindromic in nature. Numbers as well can. Like the sequence 1234321. That’s a Palindrome. Same thing in Music.”
“Ah! Music.” I said delighted. I had been a member of the Seraph choir for the last five thousand years before my sudden deployment to earth. If there was anything I was good at, it was music. At least I thought I was. I didn’t know who the singer Lil Wayne was or why he would want to sing about his Lollipop but I did think the music was Catchy.
It was strange. But Catchy.
“Yes Music. Do re mi fa so la ti do. Do ti la so fa mi re do? That’s a palindrome right there.”
“Yes….Er… Yes it is.”I said. My feathers had gone from nervous twitching to full out vibrations. I hoped I wasn’t shedding. Legna could chat all he want but I was beginning to freak out. There was half a body hanging out of the woman. This was more depressing than watching Abraham try to count his children. I closed my eyes.
Lena’s soothing voice came into my ear.
“It’s okay Mourinho. It’s almost over now. Calm down.”
Calm down. I told myself. Legna was right. There was nothing to worry about. If anything bad was going to happen. We were here to stop it. We were Angels. We were here for a reason.
And then out of the blues the reason cried.
I opened my eyes.
The Doctor had a baby in his hands. A beautiful beautiful baby. Her eyes were closed but her mouth was wide open as she screamed her first words. I listened to the baby cry and I knew without looking that my face was bright red again. I hoped I didn’t break out into happy tears. I seemed to be breaking all the Angel laws.
I looked at Legna. He had a satisfied smile on his face. His face looked like there was a blush on it but that was probably just my red haze confusing me. He bobbed up and down in place. His wings flapping slowly.
He nodded at me and pointed to the woman.
I looked and I saw.
I saw a Miracle.

She was beautiful.
Beautiful. True; her face still glistened from the sheen of her exertion and her hair was a tousled mess where it wasn’t plasterd against her skin. But in the center of it all was a lovely smile. Her eyes shone with incredibly warmth and her face which minutes before had been contorted in pain was now trapped in a loving stare. Her skin glowed with love. Oozing care from every pore. I stared at the Butterfly that had lain beneath the cocoon of pain and obscenities and for a second my gaze dimmed.
Beautiful.
“If you cry, I’ll have you sent back to heaven on the next Chariot!” Legna’s voice broke into my reflection.
I looked at him and laughed.
We both laughed.
It seemed everyone in the room was trapped in the same heady sense of Joy that we all were. The doctor was beaming with restrained pleasure in the corner. The midwives were clucking their contents in a corner and the mother, so beautiful, who minutes before had been begging a sexual alliance with Christ was now content with simply staring at her baby. In truth the only person in the room who wasn’t crying with joy was probably the baby. But she was crying so she half qualified.
“They’re like Palindromes.” Legna said.
“What?”
“Humans. They’re like Palindromes. There’s rarely nothing straight forward about what they do. It’s easy to misjudge them based on their actions but that would be a mistake. They are multidirectional creatures. Granted there are occasions were their actions can be judged on the surface of it but more often than not. If you look the other way you find that there are other things to read. Too see.”
Legna looked at me.
“Take war for instance. It’s a horrifying debacle of man pitted against man in a sludge fest of manic gore. They die. In their millions. In thousands of terrible ways. But the purpose of war oddly enough is to bring about peace. The reason behind the slaughtering of millions is so that billons may live. And live better lives too.”
“Do You see what I mean. You have to look around with humans. Never be quick to judge.”
“You see a woman hanging on the corner. She is selling herself for money. Deplorable you say. And then you find out she does this to fend for her three children back at home. All three are in school and because of her sacrifice they stand a chance of having a better life.”
“Or you see a woman willing to go through nine months of back aches, sleepless nights, nausea and eventual labor woes for just the opportunity to see a baby. Her baby.” He smiled at me. “Now you understand.”
I nodded.
“I think so. Human emotions aren’t an exact science. There’s nothing precise about them or their actions. It’s inexact. Never odd or even.”
Legna smiled at me.
“That’s a palindrome you know? Never Odd or even. It can be read in either direction.” He looked at the cooing mother. “It’s a fitting definition of human emotions or the human race. Never odd or even.”
Never odd or even.
He soared slowly into the air.
“I must leave now. I have another assignment. Some mother has asked for guidance over her children while she is away on her business trip. They are about to watch Basic Instinct 2. I might have to knock down a power pole to stop them.” HE chuckled and then looked at me.” If there is nothing else, we’ll continue your lecture tomorrow.”
I raised my wings and dropped them.
“Angel Legna. That’s a Palindrome isn’t it?”
“I’m impressed.” He said.
And then he was off. He shot off into the air. Vanishing through the ceiling.

Left alone,I took a walk outside leaving the mother with her child. Despite Legna’s assurances I wasn’t convinced the mother couldn’t see me. I left her to breast feed her child in peace.
The night was warm with the faintest of breezes in the air. As I made my way down the street the lovely singing creature flew by and filled my ears with lovely music. I closed my eyes and enjoyed its symphony.
I thought about what Legna had told me. Never odd or even.
Nothing in life was as it seemed.
I was learning.
I for instance knew that my new singing friend was called a Mosquito.

Monday, July 21, 2008

A dip..


(I initially submitted this as an article.
After the editor read it she called me back. "It's more like a blog" she complained.
I took her advise and posted it.
)



Being Nigerian there are very few things in life that I am afraid off.
I am for instance unimpressed with Mosquitoes. I don’t even flinch when they bite me. Having been bitten all my life I no longer pause to yell my outrage whenever these unwanted visitors stop by. Gone are the days when mosquito bites used to leave me looking like a pimple advert. These days whenever a mosquito bites me at night it usually has to go to the dentist the next morning to fix its broken teeth.
I am equally unfazed with Cockroaches. If I come across one I simply turn around and walk the other way. If the cockroach is stupid enough to come scuttling after me (this happens every now and then) I proceed to plan B—An intricate move which involves a flying shoe and a very flattened, very dead cockroach.
But despite my invulnerability as a Nigerian there is one thing I am still terrified about.
Water.

Well swimming to be exact.
I can’t swim. It is one of those things that I keep promising myself I have to learn. Being Nigerian has taught me caution. You never know. One day I might be trapped in the bathroom with a shower that refuses to go off. Then what would I do?
Swimming, I realized was one of those important things that people never got around to learning. It was a delightful form of exercise for those wishing to lose calories and a perfectly convenient means for irregular transportation. Take the Mexicans who swim into America for instance.
It was quite clear to me. One day I would have to stop procrastinating and actually get around to swimming.

I reached that point last week.
As I celebrated another birthday I decided to do something positive with my new year.
I was going to learn how to swim.
It was surprising how many centers there were in Port Harcourt for beginner swimmers. After inquiries I settled on one which my friend Jeff had recommended. Jeff weighed roughly 120kg. Every time he moved some Asian country suffered an earthquake. And yet whenever I was with him at the pool he always amazed me with the ease with which he moved through the water. He was like a clumsy bungling penguin which transformed into an aquatic marvel once it hit the water. If anyone could teach Jeff how to swim I decided then he must be very good.
So I settled on Jeff’s trainer.

I turned up at the pool the next day.
I was unsure what exactly one wore to swimming lessons. Would I need swimming trunks or would I be given one of those inflatable arm bands. Jeff didn’t help matters much. Shortly before I left he hung a bright Red “L” around my neck.
Just so other swimmers don’t bump into you ,he said.

I arrived at the pool with an excited air. Today I was going to get my license as a swimmer. I wasn’t really worried. There was probably nothing to swim. Just jump into the water , kick your legs, swing your arms and presto, you were swimming.
My swimming instructor walked up to me as I approached.
“You must be Mr. Thrisxtyereix.” He suggested.
“No. That’s my father. “ I said with a grin. “ Just call me Carl.”
He nodded and gave me a serious stare. He ran his eyes over my body. I was suddenly conscious that unlike him my body was not hard and riddled with delightfully placed muscles. He was lean as a Shark and I was …well…let’s just say I wasn’t shark material.
IN front of us a little boy was swimming circles in the water. He couldn’t have been more than five years old. I watched his act with amusement.
“Your son?” I asked my instructor.
He flinched like I had called him a cockroach.
“No. He is not. I have daughters!”
He said this with pride. Like there was something wrong with having sons. I made a mental note to ask my mum about this reaction when next I visited her.
“When do we start? “ I asked excitedly. I took of my shirt quickly and dropped next to my bag which in turn was lying on the Learner L.
He looked at me with a smile.
“We may begin now if you’re ready.”
I laughed in amusement, stretching my hands to the sky. The sun felt warm on my bare back.
“Ready?” I scoffed “I’m a Nigerian. I was born ready.”
And with a running leap I dived into the pool.

Quick lesson.
For those of you who are yet to visit the pool there are things you must know. Most pools have shallow ends and deep ends. The shallow end are designed for people who can’t swim and yet insist on jumping into the pool. Perhaps for the sake of a picture .The deep end are for the professionals who are so skilled they can make coffee underwater if they decided too. Yet still, there are other pools that have shallow ends, deep ends and then very very deep ends.
I didn’t know all this. If I did I didn’t suspect. There was a five year old boy swimming already. Nobody warned me.
The instructor tried to shout a warning as I jumped in but I didn’t quite hear him. All I heard was a shouted “No .Don’t….” and then I was in the water.
.

I didn’t panic for the first 2 seconds. The force of the impact caught me by surprise but I recovered quickly. I kicked my legs in the water. I had read books with instructions. If I kicked with the right momentum I would move forward. It didn’t work out that way. Instead of a burst into sunlight I remained in my water prison. I noticed quickly that I was sinking instead of rising. It didn’t make any sense. Opening my eyes I could see two baby legs hanging above me. My lungs were screaming their alarm. I had been in water for only 2 seconds and suddenly I realized was in trouble.
And then I panicked.
I opened my mouth to scream for help.
I was going to either shout Help to the side or Jesus to the heavens. I did neither. I managed to open my mouth and succeeded in tasting my first mouthful of pool water.
It didn’t taste like sprite.
Water rushed into my mouth flushing out whatever self control I had left. I thrashed about in the water madly. My eyes were bulging out with alarm. I must have looked ridiculous. If a penguin swarm by it would probably conclude I was some confused seahorse. I had fought in the water for another five seconds when suddenly my head broke the surface into the warm sunlight.
I inhaled deeply as I popped out. A sharp pain warned me that maybe I was overexerting myself. I looked around quickly for my instructor. He no doubt was on his way to save me.
I found him still standing on the side of the pool. He was looking at me with a puzzled frown.
“What are you doing? “ I gasped out. “I’m drowning you idiot.”
Then I sunk back in again.
My arms went crazy .They flayed madly in the water. Almost as if they were trying to run away and leave me to drown. I thrashed about in the pool for another 3 seconds before bobbing back to the surface. Frothy foam was all around me. I could feel a dull ache in my arms slowly growing. I wouldn’t be able to fight any longer.
The swimming instructor was still standing at the side when I popped out. Beside him the five year old boy was watching with concern. I had probably scared him out of the water with my swimming antics. I splashed wildly around me. Trying to stay afloat. If I wasn’t so busy trying to stay alive I would have been furious with the instructor. Was this how he trained his students?
I wondered if there were any bodies at the bottom of the pool. People that had failed his course.
Despite my heroics I was losing the battle. I couldn’t fight anymore. In another second I was going to go down again and this time I wasn’t sure I could make it back up again.
“Help me.” I gasped to the instructor. “Please.”
The instructor shook his head at me and sighed.
“Stop being silly and just stand in the water.”
His instructions took a while to register. I struggled for a moment before deciding to do what he said. I let my sink and then stood up.
My head burst into the warm sunlight.


It turned out I had dived into the shallow ending. Standing, the water was no more than 4 feet high. More than enough for me to breathe. I stood in the pool, hunched against my knee gasping for breath.
The instructor and the little boy watched me perplexed.
“ I almost drowned.” I pointed out.
“ In 4 feet of water? You’re six feet!” The instructor snapped.
Beside him the little boy laughed at me. I glared at him angrily. Maybe this was why little girls were better than boys. A little girl would have crying for me.
They watched me patiently until I stopped panting. Then slowly I made my way to the side and climbed out of the pool. Water dripped of me as I slowly made my way to my bags.
“Where are you going to?” The instructor asked. “We’re about to begin your lesson.”
Begin?
I had almost ended my life there and I told him as much.
He laughed at me. “No one drowns in the shallow end. You just panicked. We’ll have to work on that.”
I ignored him and sat down. He was joking if he thought I was going back into the water. I was Nigerian not stupid.
“Oh come on.” He urged with a smile.
“Once beaten. Twice I shy” I said. I picked up the learners L and rehung it around my neck. I didn’t mind that everyone knew I couldn’t swim. I had survived almost drowning. Come Sunday I had a testimony to tell.
“Practice makes perfect” He crooned.
I closed my eyes and enjoyed the afternoon.
He might have had a point but it was flawed.
Practice might make perfect, but nobody's perfect, so why practice?