Posted in Memoirs

Family Matters and others

It’s 6:35am, 13/10/2017. I paid a visit to my cousins since I am in transit to the city of my birth. And my cousins are already dressed and ready to go to school. I am extremely baffled. Why in God’s name are they up at this awful hour and dressed too. Do schools resume this early?

I coil in shock as the memories come flooding back. I remember leaving my house at 6:15am latest to be able to get to school in time. That means…. Oh no!! I actually woke up at 5am everyday. No chance. It is not possible.

If you wake me by 5am now…

Just prepare a few words you’ll like to be said at your funeral.

Anyway back to the point of this post. I haven’t been to the place of my birth in five months. One would think I would miss it. But all I feel is dread. Unfortunately, it is a compulsory family function taking me back this time, and I have to attend. I’m beginning to feel the first wave of sickness and it is not homesickness.

I do not have the strength for this travel. I do not have the strength to deal with all the family drama.

I got to the airport, found out my flight was delayed for seven hours. I feel like I could see the finger of the Lord warning me not to go home. I damn well nearly collapsed. By this time, the illness was in full effect. Some 800mg of Ibuprofen later, I was able to survive till I got home. I went to bed at 2am.

I got up at 7am for the family function. I needed more rest. But I dared not complain. It was going to be a busy day. Sometimes, sacrifices are necessary for family.

5pm. I received a disturbing news. A member of my family was more or less missing. The details around it were sketchy and I couldn’t let father know. Father had already broken down crying at the news. I have never seen father cry. All through the deaths that had occurred over the years; his friends and family. Father had never cried. It was up to me to figure out what to do and calm father down. I couldn’t risk his having another myocardial infarction.

Some GPS tracking later and some calls later, said family member was contacted. I will probably give details of her stupid acts that led to the panic in another post.

8pm. Family function was done and dusted. I couldn’t believe I was still alive. I couldn’t feel my legs or any part of my body for that matter. I hadn’t had anything to eat all day, plus my house was full to its maximum capacity; all seven rooms of it. Each room had a minimum of three. The room I stayed in, we were seven…

I managed to muster strength to put a few things in order and have a little offal soup, and off I went to bed. I didn’t sleep very long before it was morning.

Today is the 15th. Today is the day I go back to my safe haven. Away from the drama. I should be overexcited, strengthened even. But I still feel sick. I am beginning to wonder if I have a sort of terminal illness.

My flight was for midday. Two strange things happened today.

Firstly, on my way to the airport, my car that was perfectly fine and was used for the family function broke down. It was already 30 minutes to flight departure. I was already beginning to feel a bad omen. I tried ringing customer service to see how I can possibly be helped; I was kept on hold for a long time until I cut the call. I eventually found a taxi, practically threw my things in and raced to the airport. Yeah, I was the last one in.

Secondly, the aircraft I entered was battling with the winds for a part of the journey. While others shrieked and prayed, I looked through my window admiring the way the clouds hit the wing flaps and made it invisible. I thought to myself that perhaps the time has come for me to die. I was already composing the messages I would have sent to those I love even as my sister who sat beside me gripped my hand tightly. What is weird is that at that exact moment, I wasn’t scared to die. I was thinking, I feel terrible anyway; my head is banging, I have got a fever, my body feels like I’ve been doing squats and push-ups thirty hours non-stop. So yeah, I wouldn’t mind dying if it took away the pains I feel now.

Well, the turbulence stopped sadly and a very rough landing almost immediately, we arrived. Then the guilty conscience came. How would father survive? Surely I had seen how he was yesterday, this would kill him.

Well, I didn’t die. I just entertained the thought of death for a short time. I’m getting tired of living. It is too much effort.

Scratch that… I am not even alive anymore, I am just breathing.

Posted in Memoirs

Abeokuta; The Underneath Of The Rock

Source: Google Images

Today has got to be the weirdest day of my life. I can think of so many weird things that have happened to me but definitely none like today.

Weird as defined by me is anything strikingly odd or unusual that I participate in. Bearing in mind that I do weird things on a normal day, so defining this as weird has to count for something, surely.

So I got up early. I was all pumped to go to church. I had ironed my clothes, laid them out and was ready. My attention was called by my sister to see the colour of the water. I went into the kitchen and lo and behold, it was dark brown. I told her to try again, same results. I told her to check other water sources in the house and it was still the same.

I thought, great, so much for going to church early. I wasted water, left the faucet running, flushed the toilet so many times just in a bid to see if it was a temporary situation. It wasn’t. This was a few minutes to eight. The clock was ticking, at full speed too.

The water was like limestone. I haven’t seen limestone before, I haven’t googled it to know how it looks like but I just know if it was to have any colour, it would be that one.

I have not seen water coming from a tap that is that colour let alone using it to do anything as intimate as having a shower. I refused. I was thinking; “no, nope, nada, not today Satan!”

I have a very sensitive skin and I thought no way am I going to use this liquid dreg to have my shower. I was just wondering where the water had passed through to get that colour.

Through the sewer perhaps; the excreta and human waste, through the dry skeletal human remains, through the drainage where everything goes including puke.

But then, a little voice in my head said, you know there are fellow Africans like yourself who will jump at the sight of water regardless of its colour, and there are those who drink this on a daily basis because that is what is obtainable for them. Be happy at least you don’t get to drink it… at least for now.

You know I have always had a sheltered life. I’ve never really been exposed to the true meaning of suffering. I was an ajebota like the people here would call me. So this is quite an interesting experience to be part of. 

After four hours of internal struggle, I proceeded to have my shower (church was already over by the way). Even as I opened the pot where I boiled some of it (the weather was a bit chilly today), I got scared at the colour. 

1:01pm. I got to the bathroom and I made of mistake of looking into the WC. I was wondering am I really going to be putting that slime on my body. I was grateful for the fact that the bucket didn’t make the water look that bad. I nearly chickened out but the desire to be “clean” won. I braved it, poured an unhealthy amount of antiseptic into the water, covered myself with the blood of Jesus even as the first drop touched my body. And voilà! The ordeal was over in 10minutes. 

Lesson learned:

One, be grateful for whatever you have and what you don’t have, manage it until you are able to get what you want.

Two, run to the market, buy a drum and fill it up with water for days like this. I have a feeling it’s going to be like this a couple of times throughout this year. 

Strange Lingua:
*Ajebota – One born with a silver spoon

Warning: The images below may contain graphic material, please close webpage and leave.

Posted in Memoirs

A Day At Camp (#22/22)

I do not know what I expected. Maybe a better day than swearing-in day (day 4).

But no, today was far worse. With all the jubilation, shouting and war chants of yesterday, ninety-five percent of corpers slept at 12am and above. In my own case, I lay down to sleep at 11:30pm amidst the noise and loud talks of my roommates. I was roughly woken up at 2am to have my shower because apparently we would be chased out at 5am with all our baggage. I was less than impressed.

2:23am, I got up however grudgingly to begin my morning routine only to be met with two things. One, it was heavily raining. Two, the bathrooms had been locked yesterday night after being “washed” by the cleaners. The bathroom being locked wouldn’t have been a problem for me on other days because by day nine, I had learned how to play shot-put and bathing outside but in front of the bathroom. But today it is a problem because my usual spot in front of the bathroom has a long queue of unshowered and stinking corpers waiting to use the space, so I have to go properly outside, in front of the hostel and under the rain. Imagine having a cold shower, outside, and under the rain. 

I swallowed the discomfort and took the bull by the horns; in this case, my bucket of cold water. First hurdle, where to keep my glasses? I was not used to the area, so I could not leave my glasses behind and figure out where to stand/keep things/walk etc. I opened my soapdish and used the cover as a makeshift glass case. Yes, I know I am quite smart. 

Second hurdle, where to keep the small cloth I tied to cover a bit of my modesty on the long walk of shame from my hostel to the outside world. By the corner of my eye, I saw someone tying a headwrap and inspiration came like a flash. I tied my modesty apparel as a headwrap and proceeded with my shower. 

So in conclusion, I had to stay under the f*****g rain… (I wish we were allowed to swear in professional settings). Excuse me, let me try that again.

In conclusion, after minutes of obfuscation and vexation caused by lack of foresight on the part of the powers that be, I stayed under the fracking showers bestowed upon us by the Good Lord to go through the process of an external body parts clean up.

The thing I am grateful for is that there is no light, so bathing in full glare of any “lucky” passer-by wasn’t so bad.

By 4:48am I was out of the room with my luggage. And the wait for the start of the passing out parade at 9am began. While waiting, I said soddy goodbyes, had my last breakfast on camp. 

In typical Nigerian fashion, we started fifty minutes late. How lovely. Everything went okay. I could see the tension building around fellow corps members concerning postings. They were all scared of being posted to the waterside. And I wasn’t really bothered; #whentheCCisyourfriend. I was more bothered about if my PPA will accept me or not. Well fingers crossed till tomorrow.

After receiving my posting letter, I boarded a bus to get to my local government under a religious umbrella to stay in their lodge till I get “settled”. I didn’t stay there for more than a couple of hours. There were too many rules I couldn’t keep up with. And just like that I carried myself to a friend’s house.

I entered okada. This time properly. With a heavy suitcase as well. I am proud of myself. I’m becoming a street child already.

Wow I came to camp and I survived. 

How do I feel? Relieved. 

Strange Lingua

*shot put – a game majorly played in Africa of who can take a dump in plastic bags and throw it the farthest in the bush.

*okada – a motorbike

*PPA – Place of Primary Assignment

Posted in Memoirs

A Day At Camp (#21/22)

Oops, I did it again. I went to church. I even felt worse than I felt the previous Sunday; coupled with the fact that I was so tired, I left after an hour and half. Honestly what did I expect. At 12pm I lay down and tried to fall asleep.

So the camp timetable is like this for today;

5:30am to 8:55am – Personal Administration

9am to 2pm – Religious Activities

2pm to 3:55pm – Lunch and siesta

So the beagler on camp came at 12:30pm with his beagle. I had hardly slept by this time so I decided I was not going anywhere. I was overly prepared to be stubborn. I knew if I didn’t sleep, I was going to have a physical breakdown or worse, a mental breakdown.

Soldiers came to chase out the rest of us defaulters in the hostel. And one came straight to my bunk to wake me up with a whistle at 12:52pm. You best believe I didn’t move a muscle. She whistled and whistled and whistled.

I wanted to see how long she can keep trying to blow out my eardrums and simultaneously give herself severe mouth pain for several days. I won. She eventually gave up and left.

 I am so ravenous today. So I had Nigerian “biscuit morn” before church at around 7am. By 11am I was hungry again and had bread and beans. By 1:45pm I see myself taking yet another “biscuit morn”. 

The night fell fast and I had my last supper… noodles and egg. I also had my last “party” on camp. While it was ongoing, I realised how much of Nigerian songs I do not know. I seriously need to catch up on Nigerian music. I was so dumb. I was basically dancing to music I had no idea what it was talking about. I left my party sadly at about 10:15pm because I was so tired. Only to be met with another party going on in front of the hostel. A more interesting party if I may. A party laden with war chants, talking drums, gongs, shekesheke, trumpets, and gyrating corpers who were high on overexcitement amongst other things.

11:40pm. Beagle Time.

Lights out were benevolent to us today; not that it stopped corpers from making noise and going straight to bed. It actually made their morale higher. Oh yes, I took another Orijin today. Now Orijin is a type of Nigerian beer without barley and hops that has an ABV of 6%. It is not half bad and it is considerably “softer” than the alcohol I usually take.

Jeje jeje we dey go oo 

Jeje we dey go oo jeje

Jeje jeje we dey go oo 

Jeje we dey go oo jeje

A couple of hours left till we are out of this dump. 

Strange Lingua

*ABV – Alcohol by Volume

*Biscuit Morn – A substitute for golden morn in Nigeria usually prepared with broken cabin biscuits, a little water, milk etc.

Posted in Memoirs

A Day At Camp (#20/22)

Goodmorning. It is 6am. Today is Carnival day. I am tired. I am stressed. I have sore throat. I am having a water reaction and the skin on my body is peeling off. I have had only six hours of sleep in the last 48 hours. And it is only going to get worse. In my next life, (if there was anything like that) I would never be a platoon coordinator or anything. I will just pass through camp quietly.

By 7am, we were gathered for an address from the state coordinator. It was boring.

By 8:15am, I had collected my identity card to be used for all of service year.

By 8:32am, each platoon had collected some foodstuff that we were supposedly going to use to feed our corpers. Two hundred and fifty corpers per platoon. We were given foodstuff to cook for 100 people only. A couple of corpers took exeat from camp to go to the market to buy more foodstuff for the platoon cooking.

10:23am. Preparations were underway to start the cooking.

11am. Cooking has officially started. Yes I am excited. I have never stood so close, within a touching distance of firewood cooking. I have never witnessed firewood cooking from the scratch. I have never been involved with public cooking of that size. I have never smelt like firewood and coal before. I have never been… okay I will stop now and continue with my story.

It was amazing the way the firewood was lit. It was almost spectacular. Maybe I am a bit too interested in the mundane, or maybe I pay too much attention to details, or maybe I am easily fascinated by new toys. I learned a couple of things today. I made new friends as well. It is hard to believe that there are actually people in my platoon whom I should have known before today due to their popularity but I have not interacted with. It is a strange world. 

By 5:43pm, cooking was done and I went in to prepare. Now, the real battle begins. What to wear. On my way back from my place of cooking, I notice so many female corpers looking so dressed and flashy and “costumey”. Then there was me with a plain white tshirt, long unkempt braids and a threadbare jean. I knew I had to make it work somehow. I got to work on my outift. 
If I am judging by the looks I got from people as there was no full length mirror, I would have to say I did a good job.

By the time I was done with my preparation, the carnival was well underway. I was over an hour late. Believe me when I say I did not miss a thing. This was officially the most boring social event I have ever attended. There was little or no dancing. I was so happy that I hadn’t wasted my tshirt on tie and dye, I hadn’t wasted my money on masks, I hadn’t painted my face with glitters. 

It was basically a free food sharing ceremony. 

The “carnival” finished by 7:45pm and I set out to catch fun elsewhere. I was really exhausted but it was a good night. I had orijin; the people’s booze for the first time that night. I noticed I was a little bit rusty on my dancing. Courtesy of being out of practice for five months. I have to step up my game in the future. 
Anyway, it is 11:35pm. A girl has got to sleep. Goodnight Mrs. Diary. It was lovely speaking to you today.

Posted in Memoirs

A Day At Camp (#19/22) – Up and Running

Dear Google,

I love you. You just saved me stress and heartache. iPhone tried to break my heart but you mended it back. Because of you Google, I searched and saw it is possible to undo typing on your iPhone by shaking it repeatedly. Even if I shook mine for a hundred and twenty three times to get the exact article I needed. It was worth it. Thank you.

Your faithful user,

La Deuxième Dame.

I got my certificate from my automobile repair class today. I am feeling myself. I can hear the sweet sultry voice of Beyoncè in my head singing “Feeling myself” as I walk up to collect my certificate. It is a major accomplishment for the month of June.

After twelve hours of backbreaking tie-dying job yesterday, our t-shirts are finally dried and ready for wear on the carnival night. Or so I thought. I came to pick up my shirt in anticipation for the beautiful artwork that supposedly was for the carnival night. The one day before the closure of camp for freedom and everything nice. I was excited. 

So you can imagine my disappointment when I saw a rag-looking thing that was displayed as tie-dye work. 

Luckily for me, mine was not dyed yet. So I respected myself, took my tshirt and went to do some personal creative artwork on it.

It is beauty pageant day and I am a manager to the Mr. Macho going up for my platoon. I initially thought it was going to be a walk in the park which is why I agreed to fit it into my schedule. How wrong I was. I was on my feet for seven straight hours that day. I was not only a manager; I was a make-up artist, hair stylist, masseuse, fashion designer etc.

The good things I had come out of it was that I got to watch able-bodied, macho men change outfits a good number of times and I got to drizzle baby oil over my contestant and other contestants bare body… Strictly in a professional sense of course *wink*.

My contestant did not win despite my efforts. But I learned two lessons that day; Firstly, I probably would not dabble into the modelling scene ever again. It is too stressful. Secondly, I learned the name of the Speaker of the House of Representatives for Nigeria.

At the end of a very eventful day, I danced the rest of the night away till 2am. Seeing as I am waking up in three hours. I am already thinking this is a bad idea. Well goodnight folks, let me catch some much needed sleep.

Posted in Memoirs

A Day At Camp (#18/22)

Someone paid for my breakfast today. Rice and moin-moin with beef. It felt weird. I was totally surprised by the act. You see when people do things for me especially of the male gender, I always suspect them. They almost always have an ulterior motive. Especially since it is someone I just met this morning. Anyway, let me see how this turns out.

I just realised today that at the start of camp, I made a grave error, a potentially life destroying mistake. I do not know how I am going to revert it. It started out as a game. I do not know what I was thinking. Now it is something else. I have run out of ideas on how to extricate myself from this. I may or may not keep you posted. We will see.

11am. The whistle blows. It is time for those participating in the central parade to have an inter-guard drill competition. Now there are four guards composed of members from across all platoons. If the sun wasn’t so hot, I would have probably enjoyed it better. Anyway, the guard I had a bet on to win, won it. Congratulations guard four. You were effortlessly flawless.

I got paid my “allawee” today. The evening is looking up already. For those who do not know, “allawee” is that meagre sum of money that the Nigerian government has decided will be enough for us to feed, have shelter, and get clothing per month assuming it is only the basic things of life we need. Basically they want us to survive on approximately £39 a month. Sad. Really sad.

Apparently, a friend of my sister is interested in me. He’s quite a catchy and interesting fellow. Very athletic, handsome, funny too. The only problem is, he probably has no idea about the garbage I bring along with me. Well we’ll see how it goes won’t we?
I am going for my dinner now. I need to rest properly. Tomorrow is a busy day. 
Till we meet again…

Posted in Memoirs

A Day At Camp (#17/22)

How many days oo na im remain oo?

Na only five days na im remain…

Heeee I mustu leave this camp oo

Heee I mustu leave this camp oo

Hee Heee Heee I mustu leave this camp oo

Na only five days na im remain.

Did I ever mention that I am the financial secretary/treasurer/auditor for my platoon. So I’m ill and decide to use the one day leave as a means to attend to my personal business and all hell breaks loose. I’m slightly better today thanks for asking. I still had to visit the clinic today where I was given a drug that the last time I took it, I had nightmares and hallucinations. Wish me luck as I take the first tablet. 10:03am

I have finished my automobile repair class for the duration of this camp and it was a hell of an experience. I totally enjoyed every bit of it. The jokes with the boys, the constant “yabs”, the grease stained bodies etc.

Will I miss them? Yes. I hope to at least see some of them serving with me at my PPA. As a result of being a fast learner or the only female in a class of men, I was selected to speak out on what I have learnt. I am not looking forward to it. Public speaking in a stadium full of 2,491 corpers and instructors. Eurghh!!!

It is 3:45pm. Today is inter-platoon finals of the sport competition. Fifteen minutes to football kickoff and it’s my platoon against platoon two; our archenemies. We lost. On the track events. They came first in 200m race male and female and we came second. Bollocks. Today is a bad day for platoon five. We didn’t win in the cooking competition either. Our only hope is the beauty pageant… And even that is looking a lot like wishful thinking.

Posted in Memoirs

A Day At Camp (#16/22)

I am going to skip the long entry today. 

I am not interested in writing anymore.

I am tired of complaining about the intensity of the sun.

I am just a shadow on the ground now.

I am not even sure what day today is.

I am tired of camp.

I am going to sleep now.

Posted in Memoirs

A Day At Camp (#15/22)

…and the evening and the morning were the 15th day.

It is 10:14am, and the temperature is thirty-three degree celsius. I cannot believe it is only thirty-three degrees. I feel like a chicken that is killed and thrown in hot boiling water. I can literally feel the stab of each sun ray.

If the morning is this hot, by midday I would have been spiced, grilled and roasted. Can my Monday get any worse than this.

11:36am. Today is looking boring already and I need a massage badly. My body temperature is quite high this morning and I am very tired. I think I am coming down with something. I cannot afford to get ill right now. I have already lost a lot of weight. 

12:00pm. My automobile repair class starts off for today. I do not know why I am so excited to get stained with grease and soot or get my hands washed with petrol. I have come to the conclusion that I am weird. The things that excite me are weird. Well I get my wish of learning with dirt and grease. I fixed a couple of things in the car engine that were bad. It was a bad thing to stink of petrol all the way to the hostel but it was a good class nonetheless.

I couldn’t bear it any longer so I went for a mini massage and a little back stretching session. I feel a lot better now, thanks for asking. I had an interesting conversation with someone today so it made the afternoon occupied. 

The rest of the evening however is just as monotonous as always. I am actually bored. I need some kind of spice in my life. Maybe I’ll go drink one bottle of Orijin and see where the night takes me. Today is a colleague’s birthday. I’ll probably pop in to his secret bash and say hello.

Oh here’s a spice. As I’m typing, a flying strange looking animal-like insect is dancing around me. Am I bothered? Hell yeah!!!!

Goodnight. As I run for my life.

Posted in Memoirs

A Day At Camp (#14/22)

Happy Sunday folks.

You might be wondering what is happy about today. I will tell you. One, it’s the only day we are allowed mufti on camp for a few hours. Two, we are also allowed to sleep in and do whatever you want till 4pm.

And this is how my day went;
I was sharply woken up at 5am by my sidemate for no other reason than to fetch water. I woke up however grudgingly and proceeded to fetch water and I met a queue that I had to stand in for half an hour before I succeeded in getting a bucket of water.

I finally get around to my morning routine at about a couple of minutes after seven and go for church. I do not know if uncomfortable is the right word for how I felt in church. Obviously I was very attuned to the praise and worship session, but every other thing appeared politicised. The pastor preached and sweated and spoke in tongues only to end up motivating the listeners to buy his books for a thousand naira each. Somehow I knew it was going to end that way but I didn’t just expect it to. 

The worst of it all is that I sat in the first seat and stared at him eyeball to eyeball; lacking “ginger”, not moving, not clapping. He must have noticed the lack of enthusiasm I had about his preaching that he approached me later on to see if I wanted a “miracle”. I politely told him no and that I will go for surgery.

After all the sweating, the shouting, the saying of wisecracks and disseminating “words of wisdom”, I still wasn’t moved. Maybe I am too critical or maybe I have had my heart seared with hot iron that all this preaching jamborees do not move me. I was too busy dissecting his “testimonies”.

Yes, I noticed a lot of flaws in the powerful fiction he told. I have to applaud him for his writing skills though. He is a powerful orator as well. You have to give honour to whom honour is due. 

Well, if he’s the one who’s leading the service next sunday, you best believe that I will take my bible and stand up. I was sincerely regretting waking up and going for that service today.

1:57pm. I just had a heavy lunch half an hour ago and I am very hungry again. My appetite has gone from absent to omnipresent in three days.

In other news, it’s 4pm and it’s time for evening parade/games. Some people are playing chess, some monopoly, some scrabble, some draft, some ludo and others like me playing Whot while the serious corpers are marching and playing band. My fate has decided that I can never play chess no matter how hard I try to learn. It is just confusing. I am still very hungry. It must be the heavy rainfall making me so hungry.

8:57pm, I just finished watching a cultural dance by platoon one. They were so amazing. I am actually jealous that my platoon didn’t do so good. Anyway, I always appreciate a good dance act so kudos to them.

Nothing else interesting. Goodnight folks.