365 days of Lagos

It’s surreal.

This time last year I was zipping my two large suitcases and pruning my oversize “Ghana must go bag”, making the tough decision of the personal effects that won’t be transiting with me.

My books took the biggest blow. I don’t think I packed up to 10 pieces. I remember my sketchbook and recently acquired novels taking priority passage. Then my fancy notepads, because scribbling is life and sanity rolled in one.

I remember staring in horror at the luggage that had summarised my property. And the other ones I had to leave behind promising to come for them soon (one year later, I haven’t brought any of them). I figure those are what minimalists would consider clutter, but i share no such opinions.

The priority has been education, and boy have I been educated!

It’s essentially a race between effective time management and prioritising.

I have pretty much had a fairy tale Lagos living. I’m mostly in sane spaces with civil people, I have made awesome friends who for a really long stretch made me forget what public transport felt like, and I have learned sacrifice (more like a refresher course). Did I mention that if I put all the times I have been stuck in the infamous Lagos traffic, I probably wouldn’t need my second hand to count? BLISS!!!

It’s been a beautiful time so far, I have gotten out of the box I grew up in and I have survived an entire year of Lagos living. I can’t believe how terrified I was before now.

I’m still pretty much afraid of all the things that bothered me…the traffic, the crime/getting mugged (I did get robbed in church, grateful they saved me the trauma and jeje picked my pocket(or bag as was the case )), the not so subtle aggressiveness,( heights 🤣) and people.

I haven’t done a lot of Lagos living things like go on the canopy walk or boat cruise one place or the other…it’s still on the list, perhaps check again in another 365? But I have gone to a couple of fairs inspite of my distaste for crowds. I haven’t seen an Ayo masquerade up close too, but i think my fascination is not literal (I take a picture with a figure of it any chance I get).

Jay and Ayo

I also haven’t eaten amala. That’s on the not-gonna-happen list ( “not” because never say never, as it jinxes things).

In all, it’s been pleasant living in this city. Really.

Eko o ni baje!

♡Jem

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The Chicken or the Egg….

I was walking to “work” this morning, and there is this makeshift refuse dump by a pole an ordinary pedestrian like me has to walk past. I remember feeling relieved these past days because every time I have walked past that pole, there wasn’t any dumping there.

Relief because this is not a designated dumpsite, it was along a very major and beautiful expressway, and it embarrassed me because human beings, who claim to share the same number of faculty as I, repeatedly make this mess and think it okay.

Today’s pile interested me because it was packed in a clear bag, and filled with eggshells. The culprit of that heap became clear. There is a Mai Shai right at the turning into the crescent. So his customers were wont to stop by for a little “Indomie and blanket” or Bread and omelette. From the heap, yesterday was a very prosperous business day.

I wondered if that was a normal days sales or….*wait for it*… a slow days sale!!

For one location, that was a lot of egg, and it got me thinking about all the chicken and egg consumed on earth daily. It reflected another wonder of the Almighty God, because how can this quantity of the bird be consumed on the daily, and it is still not extinct!?!? Nothing is spared, not the young unhatched or the grown, and adult bird. I will jump guns and assume that 3x the human population on earth is consumed in form of that bird daily. Explains why they are genetically engineering it, for fear that there are not going to be enough chickens to eat soon (I’m not worried about it because the chicken featured in Yoruba mythology of the creation story. It is a shareholder to earths existence) (I am just glad the chicken wasn’t in the christian version. It may have featured as a villain 😥 )

I am grateful for chickens.

I did this as an entry to something GTBanks’ Gtcreate account on Instagram used to host on Thursdays years ago. The theme was to draw a chicken Lol! Guess who is the chicken??

I still don’t know the answer to the riddle; the chicken and the egg, what came first?

Fried rice and Chicken!

Jemjem

Madre

Maybe it’s because I woke up to the news of people, including my friends mom, passing.

Maybe it’s the sincerity I felt when she said to me “thanks for coming”, and I asked her why, under estimating the value of my presence.

It’s the earnest way she replied “having you around lit up my weekend”.(Her exact words.)

It has to be that.

I’m so used to having my mother so strong and independent (I sometimes blame my  disinclination to be mushy on her), that hearing those words from her resonated in me.
I didn’t think she was a brick without feelings, but I assumed she never felt lonely or missed us, her children.

I was wrong.

I have never thought it weakness to express feelings of loneliness or even mushiness,  but it has become even more validated in my life, the need to express them.

I aim to constantly grow and review my ideals. I’m going to call my mother more, make her visit more, visit her more. Less of the “taking for granted”, more of the “memory making”.

Make the most of this time that we gave together before the Lord calls her home.

Because shame on me if there are obvious characteristics and more potentials in the beautiful woman that I don’t help her explore and express to its fullest.

In the meantime,Thank you Mammy! For not coddling me.


😘😘😘, Jemjem.

Halfway Across The Friendzone, Turn Left

I feel it ever so gently.

It’s not creepy stealthy even though I am asleep; instead it resonates all the unspoken affection. The strokes are soothing, I snuggle up closer.

I’m a light sleeper, and I figure you know this by now.

You must have felt me wake,  but I try my best to maintain my breathing.

I’m safe here.

It’s pretence but it’s safer because I am afraid of the possible outcomes; the play out of events when my eyes spring open.

The decisions that would have to be made.

The unspoken that would have to be heard.

I’m too much of a coward to brace this yet.

Unconsciously I let out a soft sigh, and I swear I hear you whisper “it’s ok, I’ll wait.”

One Nigeria.

Before I went to bed last night, my friends uncovered something that may have been evident to even more people. It was clearly beyond speculations.

Nigeria’s celebrated artiste Innocent Idibia aka 2 baba, formerly 2face, had spread word about organising a peaceful protest/march in the metro cities of Lagos and Abuja,Nigeria on Monday 6th of February, 2017(today). The aim of this protest was/is to demand good governance, Accountability and efficiency from our leaders.

However, on the morning of Sunday 05th February, 2017, 2face (my preferred of his names) released a video retreating from anchoring the march. In his words “… the intent of the march is not worth the life of any Nigerian…”

He was evidently looking harassed and upset, but I assumed it was because of the lack of support and interference of ignorant  (if I do say so myself) Nigerians and law enforcement agencies.

It was until a picture from a wedding he performed at the day before (saturday) that it became clear, obvious that he was bullied into backing down.

And na there I come vex.
There are so many things wrong with Nigeria, and I am tired of blaming it on the leaders alone. It is stark evident that the issue with this country is more about the people than the anything else.

How does someone stand up to do what is right, and long overdue and you applaud his efforts but undermine his suitability as a frontman because of his personal life decisions which affect his sense of social and political  judgement in no way?

My (Our) theory is that he was picked up by the law enforcers (hence the non-outfit change) and threatened some more.

If Nigerians weren’t feeble and feckless, maybe he would have called their BS and still championed on today. Alas,we are who we are. If not that I haven’t lived anywhere else to base my judgement on fact, I’d have said that we were made up of a bunch of Judases in this country.

I am glad people still showed up in those cities and made their voice heard.

He who has ears, let them hear.

Shame on all the police men who were in the way of expression. Denying democratic citizens of their right.

Shame on all the sleazy politicians who had a thing or two against the protest to say. If it is not pinching you, Sir, IT IS PINCHING US! if you don’t know what we are talking about, we made a list for example;

And you know how back in school, the example was always the easy stuff. Same here o! Same theory applies to this our little list.

A revolution cannot happen until we change our lipservice ways as citizens of Nigeria. A revolutionary also is not signing up to be a saint, there is no need to condemn his flaws and disrespect his mission on that account.

I’m tired of being Nigerian, can you tell?

And even worse, those IPOB jokers are brewing fantasies. Ugh!

Aluta Continua.Pro Unitate!

Jemjem

Grief is on the way to madness.

Grief is an emotion best expressed.

It dares you to suppress it at your own cost.

People express grief in different ways.

It’s in that woman who is on her way to see her husband in the hospital, escorted by her landlord and her husbands colleague. Disbelieving her sons assurances of her husbands life. Laughing in hysteria when relatives call to check up on her.

It’s too early for you to die, Joseph! Too early! You havent even done anything for me and your children “ she scolded wildly at no one in particular. She sounded assured that her words would reach through the space, to the ears of her now departed husband.

She refuses to be calmed, insists the man she married would have done things differently if he still had breath in him, insinuated that there is more to his passing than meets the eye right now, reaffirms her faith in God to take care of her.

It’s in the sad smile of the young mother, whose labour was induced because her baby decided coming to earth wasn’t a good idea after all.

I had picked out names for you. Decorated the room which I may not have let you sleep in. I was ready to love you. She whispered, rubbing her belly softly.

She can’t help the tears that show up without any warning/prompting. Her husband calls her brave because he thinks that she is not spending all her time crying. However, none of her neighbours have seen her since the incident. She would neither answer the door when they knocked nor respond to any telephone call.

It’s in the student who has dedicated her life’s worth/savings to accomplish her graduating project.

She had just lost her scholarship funding, and needed to pass and be allowed to graduate without incuring debt. She didn’t mean to overhear her lecturers deliberating her very poor score.

She also didn’t mean to scowl and scream gibberish at unsuspecting passers-by.

It is that lady dealing with unrequited love.

She embraces the alcohol because it makes her too lightheaded to care. She has no existing beauty standards. Hygiene is a lot to expect from someone in denial of her pain.

Almost everyday we come across people struggling with pain or their mental health.

Be that person who hugs because life is an event worth celebrating. Use kind words no matter how aggrieved you may get.

Grief is on the way to madness, hopefully the stop at yours directs them away from the path.

Love and light,

Jemjem.

Occupational Hazards

“Yo, babe. I thought you’d stop by my lab today?”

Felicia was the senior Laboratory Scientist in the hospital, and she was also a great cook. So naturally, I assumed her reverse invitation was to come chop.

Ah, Fells mama! I had no idea you were bringing us a feast na” you could hear the grin in my tone.

“Feast? Not at all o.

I haven’t found a replacement for my market errands yet.” She paused and hesitated a little “It’s been months since ur scare. I thought you’d be anxious to put it behind you”

Felicia is a good friend. How else can you explain this current conversation. I tell her I’d be with her in a bit, pack up slightly and jog down to her lab.

When Felicia is in professional mode, she is crisp and patient. I hardly hear all the pre-talks she is giving me because I’m wondering *where is my friend,Felicia *

She takes my blood sample and directs me to go sit on the seats in the hallway, outside her laboratory.

I tried to make a call but the network didn’t think I should. I propped against the wall and began my wait.

I thought of Chrissy Teigen’s tweet, where she showed off (more like shared a picture of) her bruised knees, & captioned it “occupational hazard”. As with most of her tweets, it stirred activity; retweets and replies…I didn’t stick around long enough to find out if it got confirmed as a meme.

I imagined sharing a selfie on my social media accounts, holding up the white A4 paper containing ink wont to redecorate my future, and tagging it “occupational hazards” too. I’m not an internet celebrity, the anticipated reaction would vary from ignore, to some pity, to maybe condemnation from strangers who do not know my story. I sighed.

Why was Felicia taking sooo long now?!

I stared hard at the doorway, hoping to channel my inner superwoman and see through the doors of the laboratory. It didn’t work, so I heaved. The echo made me shake a little, it was late and as a result quiet, in the hallway. The middle-aged lady sitting down the hallway raised an eyebrow at me, as if to ask if everything was alright.

On a normal day, I would have smiled my assurance at her, but there was absolutely nothing normal about today. For the first time in my 4 years of practice I was waiting in the hallway of the hospital laboratory to pick up test results, instead of  having them emailed to me as is usual.

Plus it was a Retroviral Screening post-exposure.

This isn’t my first RVS ever. I actually cannot remember what number on the list it would be.

But this one is different.

Four months ago, I had taken custody of a newborn, who lost his mother to the disease.  It was somewhat okay, health wise for the baby until I noticed the baby was jaundiced. I quickly brought him back to the hospital to have my paediatrician colleague attend to him.It was during one of the sample collection that we had an incident.

My boyfriend (who is now my husband by the way) called. I took out my gloves to take his call, because we had just gotten over a call-related stiff. Someone walked in and I unconsciously picked up the needle I had just used, to get it out of the way, when I pricked myself. It was deep and painful, but the real pain started when my friend-doctor informed me of my baby’s new HIV status.

It took all my years of study,  practice and volunteer work for PLWHA to remain calm. I got a screening done and it came out negative. I was counselled and got a diet upgrade. My baby got started on his ARV’s and we all went back home happy.

I got married a month later and two months earlier than I’d planned because Mr. Husband wanted to prove he wanted me, HIV and all. Life was pretty decent and even normal until Felicia’s call.

As if on cue, Felicia opens the door and she walks over to the other woman, hardly acknowledging me.  I roll my eyes. Why is she doing this to me?!

She discharges the woman who is clearly relieved, and then walks back to me.

“I would have been very upset if there was a chance that you’d be stealing your baby’s ARV because you were to lazy to go get yours!”she said.

Wow. What a way to break the news Fells. I smile in relief though. I can’t help it. I think I whooped a little and hugged Felicia, jumping around the hallway.

That night I posted a selfie on social media. It was a picture of my husband dozing at my shoulders mid movie night, and my baby sleeping while still feeding. Of course I captioned it “occupational hazard.”