Reflections

1
I need to find my own strength
2
More than words: NaNoWriMo
3
A parent’s worst nightmare
4
My name is…
5
Celebration of Life
6
I, Juggler
7
Red Sand: Reconnecting…
8
Naija – style Notices
9
Happy New What???
10
How do you say…?

I need to find my own strength

It is the start of another new month. So much for my NaNoWriMo challenge. In the last 31 days, this is the first time I’m scribbling on a page. 31 days of no writing (unless I want to count helping the children with their homework or writing a grocery list. And I was supposed to write everyday in the challenge!), no thinking about writing, and no thoughts spared for the NaNoWriMo project I was so certain I’d get involved in and write often enough. Life happened. We had a home invasion on November 1st. At exactly 2.05am, a loud sound woke me up as well as some of our neighbours. It was the sound of our front door being forced open. It was too loud not to be heard in the still and quiet of that night. I saw my beau, by a window, already shouting for help once he realized what was going on. When I came to the same realization, I ran back into the room and, shaking all over, called our next door neighbour for assistance.  Then I put the children together on one bed and knelt down beside them. All that came out of my mouth[…]

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More than words: NaNoWriMo

T will be back in the next post…hopefully. She’s still writing up the reception piece of her ‘Sand, Sun & (loads of) Fun’ series. It’s quite a lot and it’s almost taking her underwater but she’s breathing just fine. While she’s at it, I decided to slip this in. Come November 1, I will join thousands worldwide to begin the National Novel Writing Month challenge. Do I have an idea for a novel? No. Will I have one by Saturday? I doubt it. So I am engaging in the challenge because… I don’t write enough. I don’t write often. And I don’t write often enough. I’m not sure why but I think I can attribute it to feeling overwhelmed with all my roles overlapping, with all the multitasking, that writing constantly is put in storage. A far cry from hitting the burners; let alone the front one. It is that bad. T had to step in on my behalf while I picked myself up from where life left me. I’m just doing that how many posts later??? What the heck! This is not me. This is not the me I want to be. And this is where NaNoWriMo enters. It[…]

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A parent’s worst nightmare

120 days. Not 120 seconds or minutes or hours. But 120 days. That’s how long some parents haven’t seen or spoken to their children. Children who did not go on summer holidays or are on sabbaticals nor are they schooling in a different hard – to – reach continent, thereby explaining their absence. No. They have been abducted. To be used as bargaining chips, and to prove a political point by their captors. Who uses children to make a statement? Boko Haram. And that ex – CIA agent in the just concluded TV series ‘Crisis’. 120 days. Almost four months and counting. And not knowing how your child is faring. The feeling is, most likely, worse than death. Death would even be better. There’s a finality to it and it brings some sort of closure. This…this, however, is torture, torment, unimaginable horror. One that has, sadly, seen the death of eleven of the affected parents. Once, my elder brother ‘lost’ T in Shoprite for about five minutes. What followed was the most hellish five minutes of frantic searching. The thoughts that occurred during the period. Anything could have happened to her within that time. Someone could have picked her up[…]

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My name is…

Do you have an English name? No. Why? Nothing. How do you spell it? Your name, that is. Of course, I have an English name. But what’s wrong with what I’m presently called? I cannot recount how many times strangers have stumbled while attempting to properly pronounce my name; most asking for the spelling in order to assist them. Invariably, not many readily recall it when we meet again. And it often happens to those who know me by name only. So of course, statements like: ‘I’m sorry I don’t remember your name’. ‘Forgive me but what is your name again?’ are all part of trying to make a name for myself. Literally. It was quite frustrating growing up with this tag hanging around me. Teachers, grown – ups and peers alike would stutter and stammer with audible ‘Eh?! What did you say your name is?!’ interjections after initial introductions. It was in fact a primary school teacher who asked if I had an English name. Most times, I felt really embarrassed; other times, very less often, I took it in my stride when I reminded myself that I didn’t have the most difficult name in the world. There was[…]

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Celebration of Life

Someone died in my neighbourhood recently. The colourful posters announcing his passage showed a man ten years away from being called a centenarian. They also showed that he had been someone’s father, uncle, brother, grandfather and great grandfather; he had been something to everyone who had known him. And as become the norm, the posters had the headliner ‘Celebration of Life’. That phrase that began to appear in the ‘90s on death notices, replacing the more depressing word ‘obituary’. And perhaps attempting to replace our grief- stricken hearts and sense of loss with new thinking, new paradigms about death. Being thankful that the deceased’s passed this way instead of mourning a life that is no more.  I totally get this. I don’t completely agree with it. Back to my neighbourhood. I was running errands on the day the commendation service was slated to take place. I would have gone by the poster – ridden house without a passing glance but for the sound and scene in front of it that stopped me short. Instrumentalists – a trumpeter and a drummer – gave music that was upbeat, alluring and akin to that of a football supporters’ club’s sound during a match;[…]

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I, Juggler

Plantains are sizzling quite nicely in the pan and won’t start browning for about a minute or two. That’s just time enough to check on Chairman in the sitting room and set T straight on her next item of homework. A little while later as I flip each oblong-shaped piece over, my mind (and eyes) fleetingly stray to the dishes within arm’s length which I had temporarily abandoned in order to start lunch. No worries, I think, I’d finish them off while the plantains are getting thoroughly cooked. I put the frying fork down and make towards the sink. Then I stop, grab one of the stools in the kitchen and sit down. Sheesh! I was doing it again; doing more than one activity at a time aka multitasking, that which the corporate world thrive on (I think). However, it cannot take the credit for starting this hard — to — break habit; reading/writing in the loo many, many years ago comes to mind immediately. But honing the habit, a regular 8am — 5pm (and often times, longer) job did that perfectly. How many times did I simultaneously have a face-to- face conversation while on the ‘phone? Or type and[…]

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Red Sand: Reconnecting…

  He was waiting in front of the security door as I emerged from it, and with scant regard for the people in the banking all, I hugged him warmly but not before noticing that signature smile of his. We hadn’t seen each other in three, almost four years. Before then, almost a decade. And he had kept in touch faithfully. Calling and texting just because. Until four years ago when he had gone through a personal crisis. I took over the baton of keeping the communication channel between us open; his prompt responses to my messages told me he thought the same way and made my efforts so worthwhile. And the years seemed to have changed little about him. That very light – skinned tone was still…well, very light; his height showed no difference despite his ever – so – slight weight gain; and that quiet, serene air around him basically enveloped me along with the hug. By the way, where were his glasses? We disengaged and he took one of my palms in his as he led me away in the direction of his office, commenting on the fact that I looked every bit the same. ‘I’m fat!’[…]

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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[…]

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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?[…]

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How do you say…?

I didn’t know what I was going to say as I punched in her numbers; I just hoped something appropriate would pop out of my mouth. She answered on the second ring. ‘Hello.’ ‘Hi girl, it’s Idolor.’ I said. ‘I just heard the news and wanted to say…’ She cut me off and went off on a monologue. I didn’t try to stop her; I felt it was good therapy for her mind, body and soul. Words like ‘How could this happen now?’, ‘This is not good’, ‘Why did this happen now?’, ‘Oh no’ reached my ears in a voice that was dull and in distress, a tone I had never heard my friend speak in before now. The few times she paused for breath, I uttered. ‘Sorry Uyi; I’m so sorry.’  ‘Sorry for your loss.’  ‘Sorry’. My brain was closed: I couldn’t think of much else to say to soothe her obvious pain. By the time she was finally done talking, I was able to add something else to my lame ‘sorry’ and its variations. ‘Our prayers are with you and the family, and if there’s anything I can do for you, please let me know.’ ‘Thank you, Idolor.[…]

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