The Institution

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I came, I ate and I conquered…a food fear.
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Helping the Help
3
A conversation I might never have
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I am not a Chelsea FC fan.
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How many do you (want to) have?
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I don’t like cigarettes…and I like to smoke!
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The end of the month
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The Smack of Love
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Do you know what today is?

I came, I ate and I conquered…a food fear.

              For crying out loud, I learned to bake from the Food network Channel. Thank you, Ina Garten! So much so that my girlfriend Muimui gave me serious and lengthy advice on beginning a baking business. I felt no fear when I started trying out some of Avartsy.com’s recipes which have since increased my recipe repertoire. In fact, by the time I came across another fabulous cook, Dunni Obata (dooneyskitchen.com), I had grown in confidence and adeptness in following cooking instructions on the internet! So why, why did the mere thought of cooking my very own traditional Owo soup and starch leave me frozen? For one, it is no mean feat to cook this soup. The intense arm cardio it requires calls for stamina and proper preparation. This soup is not for the fainthearted. Then there’s the ‘entering your hand’ syndrome. A phrase I have heard my mum and several relatives refer to when talking about this soup. In other words, if you didn’t have it in you to make the soup a success in terms of taste, consistency, look and smoothness, it didn’t enter your hand. Naturally, I was afraid to attempt this[…]

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Helping the Help

By now we would have had a president – elect/governor -elect/whatever – elect, all things being equal. But no, we had to go and postpone the elections by six weeks (starting February 14) because of Boko Haram. With the security agencies stating they’d defeat the insurgent within that period. I’d like to optimistic about their claim but is it really possible to achieve that? Maybe. Already some good news of the security agencies winning the war are trickling. They’ve reclaimed some of the towns taken over by Boko Haram and have also killed some of their members. Then again, maybe not. Shekarau, the head of BH, declared in a new video recently that they’d disrupt the elections on March 28 and April 11 while children suicide – bombers are doing their thing in every public place they find. So unless the insurgents are totally destroyed, wiped out, chances are their reign of terror would continue unabated and even more at the end of six weeks. God help us in this country! To totally defeat BH. To conduct credible and successful elections. And to experience some semblance of peace after both events. Amen. In my last post, I mentioned once having[…]

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A conversation I might never have

Last week I overheard my younger sister, Pru, on a telephone call. She is in town for a while and staying with us. ‘Good evening. How are you?’ … ‘What’s your name?’ … ‘Ok. Have you done this work before?’ … ‘How old were the children?’ … ‘Ok, Abigail. As you can see my children are younger, so you have to be patient with them. Once they get used to you, it will, hopefully, become easier to take of and manage them. You can always ask the other girls in the house for help until you find your feet. Ok? All right. I’ll speak to you tomorrow. Goodnight.’ Pru is in town without her children. She just finished talking to the new domestic help hired to take care of her children with her husband and mother – in- law closely monitoring. She’d call in often to check with them and the help for updates. I suppose she’d have preferred to interview the new hire face –to – face as well as approve of her but…here she is hoping this five – minute cell phone conversation and subsequent ones will prove that the hire was a good one and give her[…]

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I am not a Chelsea FC fan.

Really. I am not. I am only wearing this t-shirt because it looks good on me and goes with my skin tone. I am not even a football fan. The last time I sat down to see a full – length football match was the 1994 World Cup game between Nigeria and Bulgaria. It was one way to show my patriotism and I also wanted to get a feel of the ‘unifying bond’ that I heard football brings along with it. Believe me, I did not pay a kobo for this t – shirt. So how did I get here? Wearing this t-shirt and denying the club it represents? My beau is a sports fan. Tennis (table & lawn), cricket, golf, rugby, snooker, athletics, seasonal swimming…and football. He is the Chelsea fan. A true blue. Like all the other sports he’s interested in, he can talk extensively about football but, most especially, about Chelsea FC – its players, its playing, its highs & lows, its history and its managers. Not surprisingly, he loves Jose Mourinho. One of his first club t-shirts was a black and white creation with the inscription ‘Special One’ written behind. He was not an entirely happy[…]

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How many do you (want to) have?

I wanted five…or so I thought. Until that fateful long weekend I spent with my dad and two younger siblings sans my mum. After five days of cooking, cleaning and catering to everyone’s need (but mine), the number dropped to four. Until my neighbour’s three children spent 15 minutes with us. At the end of which my beau pulled me aside and asked: ‘How many did we say we’d have again?’ It became 3.5, if that number was possible to achieve. I was experiencing the law of diminishing parenthood. Until I finally had my first and, in the words of a close friend, couldn’t quite see clearly for months to come. When the second arrived, I could safely say I had gotten a hang of my role and responsibilities. Or had I? I don’t know. I learn, every day, on the job. Apparently, the unofficial number to have in Nigeria seems to be three for my generation. I cannot count how many times I have heard friends, family or acquaintances say: ‘I’m ready for my third child.’ ‘It’s time to have the third one.’ ‘This is the third and last one.’ Then again, I know couples whose third child was[…]

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I don’t like cigarettes…and I like to smoke!

Me: I’m an early bird, early riser, and wake – up – before- dawn kind of woman. Him: T has a pajamas top with the inscription: ‘I don’t do mornings.’ Now that aptly describes my beau. Me: That’s why I’m a dreamer. Everything’s so nice when I’m dreaming. Visions in my mind when I’m dreaming. I feel like dreaming all the time. I’m the dreamer. I love to build crystal clear, perfect castles in the air. A modern day Joseph-ine, that’s me. Him: He. Is. My. Reality. Check! Me: I hear a story and take it at face value. Him: Hears the same story…analysis, paralysis Me: I can plan one, two, six months ahead. Him: lastminute.com Do opposites attract? Or are men and women different because they’re supposed to be? Y’know, the Mars and Venus concept. My beau and I have had different life experiences which add up to make us whole, complete individuals. These experiences make us very different from each other in our approach to love and life. It is how we handle these differences that matter, not the differences themselves. That’s why I do the morning school run with the children. Me: I love to be prompt,[…]

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The end of the month

I’ve always said if I had a business, I’d call it ‘The 31st‘. It has a nice ring to it and would most likely rouse a bit of curiosity.  It would target salaried workers whom I was certain would have the funds to pay promptly for whatever I was offering. There’d be no need to ask countless times for payment or hear the usual ‘come today, come tomorrow‘ procrastination phrase of debtors. I don’t know how to ‘drag’ for my money. What a wicked thought! Lame too, now that I think more about it. Salaried workers are known to owe even when guaranteed monthly money is around the corner. I’m yet to open that business. Meanwhile, the CAC has the name in their records, waiting for whenever I’m ready. But August 31st is here and has been for longer that I have; it’s one of the reasons for wanting  to name a business after what it signifies. Yes, it’s another birthday for me, and I wanted to write something in remembrance of it.  Something to set in motion the plans for another new year for me.  Perhaps share memorable experiences about birthdays past or what I plan to do today[…]

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The Smack of Love

First, she’d grab your ear and twist it. The pain from this made you bend forward and downwards, involuntarily, giving her uninterrupted access to your back where her elbow came crashing down, WWF – style, seconds later. One minute you were standing beside her, the next you were in a fighting ring prone on the floor; your ear ringing, your back on fire and birds circling your head. My eldest brother had a different approach. Pretty much consistent like his mother. Once, I described it to a friend and his remark was: ‘Sounds like someone who attended a federal secondary school.’ He did. And his was a unique brand imported from Federal Government College, Kano. One sharp, unexpected slap on one cheek began the process. Instinctively, you covered the stinging cheek with your hand. The second slap hits the next cheek before you get over the first. Of course, totally unexpected too, and stunning you with its impact. It is with shock that you cover the second cheek with your other hand and, depending on how strong you are, tears are either running down your cheeks or clouding your vision; your face downcast. The third and final slap tilts your[…]

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Do you know what today is?

I haven’t slept properly in six years. Through no fault of mine, though. Then again, maybe it is. I decided to go down this route of companion and carer, consequently losing sight of what a good (night’s), sound sleep felt like. Meanwhile all around me, peaceful, uninterrupted, shut – eye take place. I hear the rhythmic rise and fall of it when I make certain, in the middle of the night, that one of my bedfellows is not kicking the other, unconsciously. Their snooze positions are comic material; think a labourer after a very hard day’s work. I’m a wide – eyed witness to it in the loud, broken – down- trucklike version from my beau which keeps me awake most times. And I can’t help stopping by some yellow -faced relative of mine, on my way to a late night bathroom run, as he sleeps sprawled on the sofa in the sitting room. He looks so serene in repose, and what the heck happened to his room? Enough sleep -dropping already. I didn’t sign up for this. And while I’m well aware of what this institution entails, I just don’t think lack of consistent, required, renewable, standard sleep hours[…]

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