Doppel-not-gänger 

Bessie of “Besseats” was very delighted to see me. I could tell from the tight embrace in which she held me in when I walked by to say “hey”. She even offered me a seat close to her stand.

Showing up after 4pm at a party is as close to providence as you can align your plans. All the plenty talks and boring speeches have already passed and it’s most likely time to entertain the guests, popularly referred to as Item 7.

Some 5-star events (this is a thing, trust me) have about 3 different caterers working different stages of the day.

I don’t know why I feel the strong need to reiterate that 5-star events are actually a thing. A 5-star event can be characterised by :

  • Heavy social media publicity/ presence.
  • Dessert stand.
  • Champagne fountain.
  • Celebrity presence, as a performer or guest.
  • Steaming hot food, whenever.

(I’m sure you are now nodding in agreement.)

Personally, as long as you have food and drink, I can’t be bothered about the others, you are still 5-star to me.

I was on my second bite into the loveliest apple tart Bessie had served me when he appeared in front of me.

I look up to see if it was someone I know or had met before, stopping to say hello.

He had a smirk on his face. Obviously he knew who I was, but he didn’t look familiar at all to me.

“I thought you weren’t going to make it” he said. Cool, I cursed inside, he knows me from somewhere. I half smile and attempt to riddle him for clues as to where/when we met. “Why would you think that?” I ask.

He throws back his head in question, then pulls up the seat where Bessie had been sitting without asking. The manners on this young man. “That seat is taken,  I hope you won’t be sitting for too long” I say as sweetly as I can muster. Bessie is making sure I get served, it’s only right that I save her seat.

He looks at me as in disbelief.

I realise now how rude  that may have sounded, but in my defence, he is the one sitting without asking if he could.

“You ignored my message inviting you here” he accused. I couldn’t make if he was asking a question or telling me.

My mind did a quick run through of my recent conversations, and I was sure at breakfast I’d painstakingly responded to whatever communication I’d received in the past week.

What am I even doing! I don’t know this fellow! I heard about this wedding at work. I chew up the last of my tart, ready to fix this apparent mix up.

“What message are you talking about?” My sweetest smile displayed, damage control for all my previous offs.

“The one you read and ignored obviously.”

I rolled my eyes, I couldn’t help it. He probably has a thing for 21 questions and I am not keen right now. I didn’t dress up for this.

While contemplating how best to ask if we have met before, he compliments me “you look really great with make-up, I almost didn’t recognise you.”

Here’s the thing – I’m usually bare-faced unless there is an occasion to play dress up (like every other saturday).  So there is a chance I have met this person but just don’t recognise him.  Also fat chance I gave him a phony number, explains all the unresponded messages.

I actually look at him, this time shuffling through my face recognition files to match his face with another time and place past.

It didn’t work.

However, I noticed other details, the uncle was fine like new mint. And family at this event because he was wearing the family asoebi.

Bessie distracts me a little with a platter of snails and moimoi. Lovely Bessie, she brings another one for my ‘guest’, whose family has paid for her service.

He ignores the plate like it’s invisible. IS HE SERIOUS RIGHT NOW?!

It makes me refrain from eating. The earlier I get him far away from me, the quicker I can continue to enjoy this party.

I throw tact and convention out the window and ask “have we met before? You seem to think we have.”

He looks a little surprised, and then chuckles. I think I heard him swear under his breath as he gets up. He is smiling and shaking his head as he walks off.

I want to call Bessie and ask her what just happened,  because I don’t understand, but Bessie’s stand was popping. People were flocking around her for desserts.

I take a bite of my moimoi and decide that everything that just happened was worth it.

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The Ones Already Gone. 

Today I remember all of them.

Well, some. The ones that I knew of.

Bede was the 1st one.  He had been in my class since Primary one. Orangey and lanky, it’s been so long that I can’t confirm the picture in my head which gives him a buck teeth to be true. I remember he gesticulated as a habit. His mother was a nurse at the health centre close by , which caused Bede to always be one of the first pupils on the grounds on a school day. Restlessness in children and carelessness of the shool authorities cost us this one on a school morning.

Ezinne was the next to go. She was tall and ebony and wore her hair short. I don’t think we spoke much, but I think if we did, we would have gotten along well. We had just returned from school holidays, back to boarding house, and Ezinne was yet to show up. Times like this, we relied on information from family friends and relatives who attended our school. I don’t remember if word came, but when it eventually did, this strange life had been cut short in her.

Then came Nneka, one of the bulkiest girls in my set. I have a picture in my head of her school sandals, because they had heavy soles as if boots, and I concluded the shoes needed to support her size. Broad shoulders and a growth on her neck. The growth had been there for the longest but sometime in our SS 2 (or was it 3?), she disappeared from boarding school to have it surgically removed. We met again in University, but she didn’t stay long enough. It’s amazing how these stories come and spread.

The next one was Chinenye. Coursemate,  which means we didn’t quite say a word to each other until 3rd year or maybe final year (I was a certain kind of student). She was lightskinned and as I later found out bubbly spirited. We had same project supervisor for the final year project and became acquainted. In this time, I complimented her weightloss and her rehydration habit (she drank a lot of water, I called her mmiriaku). She once shared a video of her sister dancing to Timaya’s Yankulu ya, and now every time I hear that song I remember her. It was a morning during NYSC, I was in my apartment contemplating Lokoja’s sun(as was a habit) when I got the call telling me. Now that I think about it, maybe she didn’t conciously lose weight, maybe she didn’t drink all that water because she wanted to, she had to.

I notice how as I got older the details of each passing grew. Maybe it says something about how painful/significant each death was. I may never get a grasp of death, but I have decided that I will not be afraid of it anymore.

xoxo,

Jemjem.

Black Privilege

The white community a.k.a Wypipo are most often than not bashed for being beneficiaries to “white privilege”.

Especially with the likelihood of them to be absolved or get lighter judgements on the crimes they commit,  there is also the part where they are treated superior to the authorities/owners of the land where they go to serve as Expatriate. This is the stereotype that gets thrown around a lot.

It was only until an incident a couple of days back that I realised that it is not all bad. 

My people have a proverb that translates that

 “It takes a whole village to raise  a child”

I had joined it in the same bracket as their inability to mind their business, but i saw it in a different light when I heard a certain story, totally random and so deep.

A certain teenage girl had become withdrawn and uncommunicative with her parents. As a result, there was no knowing what the matter really was. Another neighbour who had no social relationships per se with the childs parents observed this change in the childs mannerisms as well, bit because there was no formal acquaintanceship, she felt it too forward to go and share her findings. 

She however noticed that everytime the child was on her way to school, a car pulled up and picked her. She didnt pay so much attention to it as she considered it “good samiritan” behaviour. However as it became too often and pick-up-site precise, she was curious as to the safety of the child.

Opportunity for her to make a difference in the life of the child presented itself when she was in the neighbourhood mart, picking random items for herself when she overheard the childs mother lamenting her daughters recent misbehaviour. The minute she heard ‘truancy’ and ‘absent in school’, she apologised and jumped into the conversation. It definitely explained the car pick-ups.

She was able to share it with the mother who confronted the child and learnt that she was being hoodwinked by  an older boy to pursue lofty dreams and aspirations. It was a lesson to the parents to pay attention to their childs interests more but it got me thinking…

Had that been a white community where everyone respects everyones space “till it spoils”, the mother would have never been approached and fed the details of her childs misdemeanour. The child may have even run from the house by this time.

But, Black people being who we are, we are unable to see something around us and keep it to ourselves. 

Sometimes this is bad, but it has most of the time brought comfort because you know no matter how off gear you tether, someone is watching your back for free.

Now thats Black Privilege.

 Peace and Love,

Jemjem.

Not all wounds are visible.

Not all wounds are visible.

I am one of those people who see depression as a far-far destination. Like how does something this minor break you so bad.
But I forget sometimes and have to remind myself, “Slippers get size”
If anyone says a matter is hurting them, instead of disproving this, perhaps we can try to find ways to offer relief? maybe?
Faith found a way to explain why as plainly as possible. I thought I’d appreciate the effort and spread the much needed awareness.
Bises.

Phaytea's Pulse

You can never really tell where it hurts….

Over the weekend, I read about the case of a man who told his driver to stop abruptly on a bridge, after which he got down from the vehicle and plunged into the lagoon immediately . He was reportedly taking a call when this happened. He was a doctor.

I screamed!!!!

This is just one out of the numerous cases that happens around the world. We hear about some and others are blown away with the wind. This is an intense piece for me as I cannot begin to imagine what transpires within those nano seconds before ……. (dark space).

Compassion

August Alsina’s song ‘Nobody Knows’ comes to mind. Nobody really knows the pain behind that smile…..

We only see the surface and assume we are all fine. The flashy cars, picture perfect lifestyle, fancy job titles, pictures of vacations and lunch at…

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Mogbo moya

My fanciest clothes are always out on the weekends

I don’t struggle with ironing. For a fee, Ahmed who lives in front of the compound makes sure I’m wrinkle free.

I usually babysit Gboyega’s car during the weekends too. He was recently transferred to an out of country office, has not found need to ship his car over, and would not sell because he had the car done up to suit his taste. It’s a 2015 Toyota Avensis. Considering how ugly I thought the earlier models were, I never thought driving an Avensis would excite me as much as the thought of the weekends do now.

My name is Dasola,  and this is how I spend my Saturdays.

I usually wake at 5 am because I prefer to fix my breakfast before my traditional run (usually starts up as run and ends as a long walk).I’m kitted and out the door by 6am, God forbid I forget my earphones. I “run” and I’m back within the hour, shower and have my breakfast. Ordinarily I’d have my laundry sorted while Mercy,my young Igbo friend whose mother fries akara across the street, cleaned the house. But recently Mercy begged for her brother to do the washing, for a token of course. She sounded like he really needed the money and since she has never stolen anything from me before now, I thought I’d oblige her.

“Bia Nwoke,  as you can see, I’m only letting you go through my stuff because your sister is my girl. This is lagos, if I shout “ole” we will lynch you and then ask questions later,you understand?” I tried to sound stern and pull off the little Igbo I’d picked while warning Mercy’s brother. Mercy was behind me and I caught her from the corner of my eye nodding in agreement.

So now that the usual chores are out of the way, I take the time to go grocery shopping and buy supplies for my workplace if need be.

Whatever the case, I make sure I’m home by 3pm, to head out at 4pm.

You see, the reason my best clothes are out in the weekend is because I have a habit.

I’m a gate-crasher. I’d gate-crash your parties, weddings, whatever event.

I have been doing this for so long now that the bouncers know me. Some of the caterers and the servers too. I’d blush and find it embarrassing, except that it’s a really good rep if you asked me. It means your “invitation only” event already has me on the list. It means that no matter when I show up, the waiter at your event has small chops saved for me.

I am a huge fan of Owambes. I figured if someone already paid for entertainment there is no need for me to go and spend money at a bar or lounge or whatever, buying drinks and forming “living the life”.

You may wonder how I hear about what events may be happening. When the bible said all things work together for the good of those who love God it wasn’t playing AT ALL!

Instagram comes in handy. When your fancy pre-wedding pictures come online, I find out if I know somebody that knows somebody. When I do find, I holla at them for details.

Fortunately, I have the most non-judgemental friends, they always indulge my habits and provide these info willingly. If they use it to yab me behind my back (I have heard a couple of gist,*rme), consign them really!

Also my hot cake caterer-turned allies also help me with details and what not. Sometimes I’m even spoilt for choice (Ha!I know right!).

Anyways, today is a beautiful sunny day in the city, and my face beat is so fleek you can cut through a crowd with the wings of my eyeliner. I’m feeling particularly good about today’s event. My favourite dessert person is catering the event,  and I cannot wait to dig in.

My inner fat girl is coming out to play but looking at my reflection, you can never tell. I smile at my reflection and as the highlight on my face hits the mirror, I feel it’s ray hit all the way across town.

Her Weakest Strength

A good heart”.

That’s the name they gave to her condition.

She was without a doubt the kindest person you may never meet, and the honesty in her words flowed like melted butter.

She didn’t kid herself into thinking that she could wish away the evils of the world, but she was hopeful enough to believe in the good in everyone.

Amber.

That was her name.

And unlike the amber-coloured vessels in Chemistry, she didn’t hold any volatility within. If anything, she wore her heart on her sleeves.

It’s a nice accessory” she responded every time a friend commented to that effect. “What I am trying to say is XYZ has no reason to lie to me. We are not even close enough for me to care

Oh, Amber! This was the problem.

Reuben walked into your life in perfect order; saved you from an embarrassing situation, defended you a second time without knowing your first name and helped you meet an urgent need.

He was your Knight in shining armour, even if you claimed to not subscribe to clichés.

Ruby, that was your pet name for him, would never lie to me” that was your defence every time someone pointed out a situation didn’t add up.

Every time he called you beautiful, you believed him.

Every time he promised to do better, you believed him.

Every time he said he loved you, you believed him.

Not because on your own you felt the need for a sense of validation, but because in your books all his goodness had crossed out his tiny flaws.

What are humans without their flaws?” you jokingly ask.

You were right in believing Ruby, Dear Amber.

He did mean those things every time he said them to you.

He never intended to do you wrong. He got carried away and forgot to mention his engagement.

Time went by so fast and he didn’t get the chance to explain he was already taken.

He showed up on his wedding day asking you to elope with him, so that he can do right by you.

Good intentions never resolve the issues, Dear Reuben.

Amber hasn’t been out of her room in 3 weeks. We know she is not dead because we hear her singing. We know she is still sane because we hear her sobbing.

Ode to the Pink Panthers

Its the International Women’s day 2017 edition, and it has been very colourful on the web pages, and on the radio ( I can’t tell how many times Shaggy’s “Strength of a Woman” has played on the radio today) and in the conversations.

I love the idea of being a woman being celebrated. I got caught in a few arguments from the “men too” troupe, who wanted to know why Men didn’t have their own day set apart for celebrating (They should be grateful we let them have birthdays 😁)

There has been so much citations on the victories and travails of the womenfolk, but while I was praying for all the women in my life today, I didn’t necessarily count the victories that are very evident.

I counted the victory of the woman who relentlessly kept up her children’s standard of living, in exchange for her peace of mind.

I counted the victory of the woman who didn’t resort to violence but chose to forgive every time she came in contact with the one who abused her.

I counted the victory of the woman who in spite of her agonizing stillbirth, determined to get pregnant again, and birth a child.

I counted the victory of the woman who looks nothing like all the tears welled up inside her.

I counted the victory of all the business ventures who refused to be backed to the corner by contrary forces.

I counted the victory of the woman who in spite of running her family goes on to achieve all of her dreams and goals.

I counted every woman who chooses to support other women in every way they can.

Their stories make this day special.

Their stories give us a colourful aspiration.

Happy International Women’s Day! Because you are worth it!