Archive - March 2013

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My daughter, my self
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Naija – style Notices
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Happy New What???

My daughter, my self

The introduction was one – sided; she was asleep. There was no chance for first (and lasting) impressions. I did all the talking and staring. Sometimes I smiled but not for long. I didn’t stay long either; I was still in pain. That was six years ago. And I’m almost tempted to say (or write) ‘how fast they grow’/ ‘how time flies’. Soon we’ll be talking heels and weaves. Idolor and daughters. That’s what’s a close cousin of mine called me back then, and I’d encourage him. It was no secret, I wanted daughters. To do girly things with, to be girly with but more importantly ( and a little selfishly too) to have a little ‘me’. I was curious to see what a younger, female, version of me would turn out to be. Would she have sharper or softer features than me? Would she look exactly like me or not? Understandably, I was very excited when T arrived. Finally, my wish was going to come true. How wrong I was. My first sighting of her (during our first introduction) deflated that excitement like a balloon, with a loud pop. A striking resemblance   There was little or nothing in her physical appearance that signalled any similarity to me. All I heard was: ‘She looks like her father.’ ‘Her father’s brother can pass for her father.’ ‘She’s almost the replica of her father’s father.’  Nada of me. Then as though as an afterthought, her skin colour is just about the same shade as mine. Perhaps to appease me, I thought, for carrying her for all those months. It hardly suffices. The facial appearance is almost always the first and strongest reference point for similarity between parents and offspring before other attributes like height, skin colour, weight, etc come into play. And if I thought that she’d change her appearance with time, like most babies do, I was in for a long wait.  Her appearance got more pronounced through the years. Beyond the senses  ‘She looks like her father but her expressions are her mother’s.’ T couldn’t have been more than”more

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Naija – style Notices

Did you hear the joke about the Nigerian woman going abroad for the first time to visit her son living there? On arrival at his house, she claimed it was missing something. Wondering what it could be, her son offered some suggestions. Was it in the kitchen? Or in the bathroom? Or perhaps in the bedrooms? Not any of those, she said. It’s the front of the house. It doesn’t have the usual notice scribbled on – ‘This house is not for sale’. Naija notices were, literally, the writing on the wall in my growing up years. There was hardly ever a time they weren’t part of living. If anything, new ones were created to increase the number. And over two decades later, some of them have remained robust, accompanied us into the 21st century and are almost grandparents to my children. The question is: do they still have the effects they had years ago (if yes, aren’t there other [read: better/more refined] ways to send out their various messages) or have they became so ingrained in our psyche over time that we think nothing of it as we (mindlessly/happily) scrawl away? Well, some are definitely embedded in mine and are constantly reinforced every time I see them: This house is not for sale This must be the oldest notice ever. Back then, there would be at least two or three houses with this statement boldly scrawled on the front part of the building. Sometimes it was right next to the house number and messing up the aesthetics (if any) of the house – paint, design and all. Now that I think of it, only unfenced houses bore this notice and if one was privy to the story behind it, the tale was never far from feuding siblings/relatives due to a dead patriarch and uneven distribution of assets in somebody’s opinion. Later on, it was either replaced with another – This house belongs to… – or an addendum appeared beside it for further clarification: Beware of 419.  All thanks to the rise of the ’19 boys in the mid/late ‘90s”more

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Happy New What???

Where did ‘Happy New Month’ come from? How did it start? Yesterday, a friend of mine called me. After the initial pleasantries and platitudes, the next thing she said was ‘Happy New Month’. There was a momentary lull in the once vibrant conversation; I didn’t know how to respond. Right now, I don’t remember if I said ‘Same to you’ or ‘Thank you’ but I mumbled something eventually and we continued talking. Before the call I had been on Facebook for about 20 minutes or so, and it had been rife with various forms of the happy -new-month greeting/salutation/whatmacallit. For a moment, I wondered: what was the appropriate response to this…phrase, statement, greeting? Was there something to it like ‘Happy Birthday’ and ‘Happy New Year‘? Or was it for want of something to say at the end of another 30/31 days since nothing was said before at the beginning of a month? It brings to mind a certain language which has a greeting for almost any and everything. Maybe that had a role to play too. During the oil subsidy protest at the start of the year, my hairdresser actually said to me: ‘Happy oil subsidy!’ Are you serious, madam? Then there’s the ‘How was your night?’ question that also leaves me speechless. The first time someone asked me that I wondered if he meant ‘How was your day?’ But since it was only 9a.m. at the time, I knew he meant what he had asked. He walked away when all he got from me was a smile. No words. I didn’t (still don’t) know how to respond. Correct me if I’m wrong but if I remember correctly, it used to be: ‘ Did you sleep well?’ However, some might argue that not everyone sleeps at night these days. Like the happy-new-month thing, how does ‘How was your night?’ fit in? Once again, should I slot it into the same shelf space as ‘How was your day?’ or ‘How was your trip?’ questions? Is there a proper response to it? Because my silence, smiles and mumbles do not seem to”more

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