Reflections

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95% Western, 5% Local
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November in review: The best laid plans
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Remembering Nkiru
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I don’t get it but I’ve accepted it
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October in review: comme ci, comme ća
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The beast in our breasts
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A toast to all …certified and otherwise
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Nigeria’s 57th: Independence day thoughts
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September in review: Still recovering
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In my own company

95% Western, 5% Local

Until the dance routine tapered towards its end, I struggled with the expression of that emoji in the animated movie of the same name – meh. Meanwhile, all around me, at untimely intervals, there were spontaneous eruptions of excited screams and woohoo that got me thinking: Were we all watching the same opening montage of the children’s Christmas Carol programme? Or was I the only inconsiderate parent amongst super – supportive ones? Forgive me but I refuse to act delighted by a pedestrian performance with less than mechanical accuracy and the corresponding enthusiasm. The vibe I received from the participating children was: Let’s do this and get it over with, and try not to miss too many of the choreography while at it. Their faces were wiped clean of the emotions you’d expect from people who were the cynosure of all eyes – happy, excited, smiling or laughing even. It was as though they were carrying out a chore. And very few people are happy while doing chores. These didn’t have the expression of intense concentration or focus on the task at hand (Some of them had their eyes trained on their fellow dancers to ensure that they were executing the right moves at the right) Bland. Bland. Bland until the routine was almost completed; until some of our local flavour of dance movement were infused into it. The kind the children could relate to, were comfortable with, and executed effortlessly, even if it was just for a few seconds only. The fleeting change was instant in the fluidity of their movements, the hint of relaxed facial muscles, the trace of reveling in this part until it was back to foreign choreography which seems to have replaced any form of traditional dance display which once enjoyed centre – stage in children’s school programmes such as this. Not unlike the advent of Nollywood when the language of preference was Igbo (with subtitles for a wider reach) and the acting prowess of the actors shone through – original, closer to reality, true to us because the actors expressed themselves in their native tongue. A”more

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November in review: The best laid plans

If October didn’t do justice to all the plans I had mapped out for it, November fared even more dismally. It was the month of NaNoWriMo, the highlight of my writing all year long. All those posts, the practice runs of everyday scribbling was leading to 30 days of excited, enthralling, frenzied writing. In anticipation, my adrenaline levels rose; I even jotted out various plots and storylines for each scene I intended to expound on, with the intention of adding onto them as I completed each one. But alas, it was not to be. Most of the month was spent fending off the onslaught of nausea, fever and weakness in my body. Harbingers of an ailment I couldn’t afford to entertain at the time ( or any other time!) My gallant efforts were unsuccessful. Malaria hit me, like a hurricane with ample warning, from all sides, and rippled into other areas of my life as expected – my workout routine, my writing and, to an extent, my reading.  

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Remembering Nkiru

I’ve heard it said that ‘we do not remember days, we remember moments.’ I remember so many moments now that Nkiru is no longer with us on this side of eternity. I remember the seemingly little things and the big things and hold them close like the priceless treasures they now are. … I remember, not to mourn as before but to celebrate the life of an amazing woman who gave us so much to remember…and emulate. I remember the wise, the wonderful, the wacky and the witty. I remember her loud peal of laughter. It would break out without warning and ring clear across the room and if it was based on something I’d said, I remember the way she would manage to say while still laughing – “Chineze you’re very silly”. I remember her way of shrugging and saying ‘Ama m’, the Igbo equivalent of ‘I dunno’ if you asked her something she hadn’t figured out. I remember the painstaking way she painted her nails in the morning to match each day’s particular outfit, when we shared a workstation in our Tequila days. I remember the impossibly high heels in someone already so tall and statuesque. I remember the out-and-out creative brilliance and distinctive copy skills. What I remember most though are the last few precious years. Her Courage, Christianity, Cheerfulness and Compassion. To manage the scale of health challenges that she did without ever complaining to me, while reminding me not to be discouraged by my own challenges which of course paled in comparison. What is that if not the kind of courage one often reads about? This is only one example. There are many more I cannot share in the interests of time. Nkiru also demonstrated true Christianity at a time when it was hardest to do. When I once commented during a phone conversation with her, about wanting to shake my fists at God in anger and protest, she reprimanded me sharply and reminded me that God is good and faithful – all the time and should always be praised and worshipped. No matter what!”more

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October in review: comme ci, comme ća

This 10th month felt unfulfilling to me. In terms of my plans for it. Yes, I did read books – three of them – The Islamist, The House My Father Built & Burma Boy. Yes, I did my work out, quite diligently too, save for the time an upset stomach halted me temporarily in my tracks for a couple of days. My 9 – 5 was humdrum, snail – pacing along. No private jobs were bagged this month either. No, I didn’t blog in the manner I’d have preferred – more posts about books read than insights on other everyday events – but I attained my target for the month. It didn’t feel me with any form of satisfaction. Somewhere in the month, I prepped (inadequately too. Let’s see the outcome of that this time next month) for NaNoWriMo. If I can call the three pages of plot notes that! Then I began and completed several editing tests in a frenzy of 14 days for self- improvement and career development. I am yet to attempt any more in the last week or so. Life happened but I intend to return to them and include in my weekly or monthly learning path. And I ended this month doing some female – related health tests. Sobering stuff. Like I said in the beginning, an unfulfilling month but I’m grateful to have seen all of its 31 days.

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The beast in our breasts

The call came through on one of those days when I had the second dose of malaria medication flowing in my veins; the time when I was hovering between sickening nausea and weakened limbs. The last thing I craved was answer a call and expel the last vestige of energy I had left. No, I’ll pass. I picked it up. What the caller (a former colleague and friend) had to say made my sickly situation grossly inconsequential. My response, instinctive as it was, was equally news to her as her pronouncement had been to me. A former supervisor (a truly beautiful soul who morphed into a friend, sounding board, co-conspirator and big sister) had died…of breast cancer. I had been aware of her condition and her subsequent relocation to the US for better, further treatment. The reports of her situation sounded good. Last I heard, she was in excellent health. Not anymore. The cancer had won. And I thought she had won.  Going to the States and all. Getting the best of care – chemotherapy, constant monitoring, mastectomy even. I thought she had won. I was not privy to the prognosis of her affliction but whatever it had been (early/last detection, the stage at which it was, metastasized or not), I was confident it wouldn’t win. It might have defined some aspects of her life; it never crossed my mind it would take it eventually. After all, a family friend’s wife had a double mastectomy two years ago and was still a breathing proof of her fight and win against this beast that attacks one of a woman’s discerning traits. The comedian, Tig Notaro, bared it all (her double mastectomy sans reconstructive surgery) to her audience, completing the remaining part of her set Boyish Girl Interrupted topless, unashamed and glad to be alive. Breasts or not. I never thought N. wouldn’t make it out. The news of her death hit very closely home. Until now, I have paid no more than the required attention to my mammary glands – keeping them clean, often times encasing them in snug – fitting”more

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A toast to all …certified and otherwise

If you’ve held a child and jogged along as s/he learnt to ride a bicycle on your instructions… If you’ve pointed out words and painstakingly pronounced them properly for another to repeat and remember and read… If you’ve effected an attitude adjustment where there was once deviant behaviour… If you’ve trained a child, a sibling, a protege in the way s/he should go and s/he is yet to depart from it… If you’ve inspired confidence, kindness, gratitude and a pay-it-forward way of life… If you’ve nurtured and mentored a dream, a passion into full-blown tangible reality… If you’ve instilled discipline, obedience, respect, courtesy, empathy in another… If your guidance, nudging, support and frequent yelling have resulted in a better human… If after reading the following quote: “The mistakes of a doctor are buried underground, the mistakes of a lawyer are locked behind bars but the mistakes of a teacher walk up and down the streets ” you think of all the other possible options you’d have taken to instruct, impact effectively… Then raise your glass with mine in a toast to us. However, if you’ve done all of the above (and so much more) as a calling, in a controlled environment which is time – based with certificates and students (past and current) to show for it, Then raise two glasses and chop knuckle as well, if you can. It is not easy, biko. You are truly a gem! Happy teachers’ day!    

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Nigeria’s 57th: Independence day thoughts

This time last year, I wrote a laundry list of Nigeria’s faults and foibles, dwelling on our various disappointments and disgraces, reliving the country’s shams and shame. It was basically a scorecard with a large X mark in bold and bright red colour. The question I asked was: If Nigeria were to be likened to a person, would s/he be considered successful at 56? This time yesterday, God knows. I was geared up to reprise the incident on a larger scale, replete with caustic remarks and snide sides. It was already in the works; use the words of the national anthem or the pledge (or maybe, the coat of arms) and take them apart, line after line. An hour – long radio progam interrupted my dangerous intentions. A special in commemoration of the nation’s independence anniversary. Both anchors of the show – male and female – urged listeners to call in and mention any national achievement that made for personal pride. The first person started it off with Nigeria’s first world cup appearance in ’94. Then the female anchor chipped in with hers – the GSM revolution and the ease it had brought into our daily activities. The next couple of callers latched on to that ‘achievement’ and its offshoots – mobile banking, the cellphone as the be all and end all of our lives. As I listened in, this article began to veer, ever so slightly, in another direction entirely. It was the last caller who vocally externalized my version of a national pride moment – Agbani Darego’s Miss World win. It made history, broke stereotypes and surged the hearts of many citizens of the most populous black nation on earth, as well as the only continent regarded as dark, with enormous pride. Right now, Nigeria may not be where a lot of us hoped it would be. Scratch that. No one imagined the country in the position it is today on October 1, 2017. Time and again, it has failed us.Woefully. Devastatingly. In frustration and despair, a lot of us have abandoned it to seek out foreign lands”more

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September in review: Still recovering

It’s amazing how at the end of last month, I looked forward to the prospect of this one.  30 days have come and gone, and I am not twirling in delight; neither am I signing with relief or laying down in exhaustion. Instead, silently, I am seething with contained anger at one aspect of my life – blogging. Besides this post (and one other), I can be described as going awol on this month. That’s because I spent most of the month trying to get up to speed with August’s posts (and yet to complete them, by the way. * covers my face in shame. *) They are taking longer than expected, and so is my recovery period from the four – week holidays with four energetic little humans. The only meaningful writing I engaged in can be found in my journal; even that took quite an effort to achieve at the end of every day. And I wish I could say that was the only blip in a month which seemed like a very smooth ride from the beginning. My reading took a severe beating as well. From a fantastic – four – books- in – four- weeks last month to a dismal one and a half books this time around (I’m still on the second book, slowing paging my way through). See why my silent, seething rage? Or am I too tough on myself? Then I’d do better next month; just watch and see.   photocredit: rossifox.com

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In my own company

There comes a time in the life of a mother when all she desires is a little peace and quiet. This can arise several times in the course of her day but actually making it come to pass can take many months, or years even. I do not refer to 15 – 30 minutes to catch her breath, hear her thoughts or some her -time. It’s more in the range of stretches (big blocks) of solitude (hours, or if you’re lucky maybe days, a week or two) away from the motherhood and marriage madness that is her life outside of her career. I reached that point a few days before my birthday which was just as well. Realistically, taking days off wasn’t on the cards. Remember the cheerleaders in the house? Their sounds seemed to increase with every passing day that drew the date closer. For some erroneous reason, they envisaged the day with loads of sweets, more sweets, an outing and excitement. Fat chance! When it finally came, my birthday was a quiet affair alone with my thoughts for company in a movie theatre where I saw an action – packed, many shooting – sequences and high- speed car chases motion picture. I topped that with a huge, alcoholic – infused cup of ice cream while I people – watched with a mind completely erased of any thoughts. It wasn’t an extended period away from what is usually the norm of my life. Three hours at the maximum, but they were three of the truly blissful moments of the month, and an absolutely wonderful way to mark the dawning of another new year for me. My beau couldn’t understand it. Neither could my brother both of whom baby-sat the children in my absence. How could they? They aren’t women!

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