1
Helping the Help
2
A conversation I might never have
3
One down, eleven more to grow
4
This sugar is made of salt
5
A December to Remember
6
In 2015, I resolve to…
7
Closing with cleansing
8
1.2.3, 1.2.3…sweat
9
Bangers, bisco ‘n’ brawls
10
Our Red Sand Christmas

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 a cleaner who came only on Saturdays. She didn’t last more than six months. Why? I couldn’t rely on her and she came in only once a week! In addition, I was distracting her from her earthly journey towards heaven which was invariably tied to her unreliability. How? I’ll let you know in a bit. When I was in search of a cleaner, I knew I would, most likely, be spared 75% of the drama that came with domestic helps. Even then, I was still wary. The horror stories were still…horror enough to question my decision and put me on my every guard should I go ahead with it. I wondered what she’d bring along with her — her attitude, her beliefs, her habits, her dress sense. Nevertheless, I put the word out to friends and family. I’d never confirm or deny my doubts if I didn’t make an attempt,”more

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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 the peace she needs concerning the well-being of her children. What heartache! I tried hiring a help a few times, a few years ago. T was still less than a year old and my mum was leaving us after helping out and, I was ready to go back to work. A former boss made the necessary contacts and a 20 – something year old showed up at my doorstep, bags in hand. I never got to see her but my mum and my beau did. They interviewed her. My mum thought she was ok. My beau hedged and hawed. There she went, never to be heard of by us again. We settled for crèche – care for T and I juggled mother, wife and career somehow.  I did, however, get a cleaner who came in on Saturdays only. She lasted for about six months. Besides cleaning the house, she was”more

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One down, eleven more to grow

I got this message from one of my gal pals, Muimui, yesterday: Hope it’s been a jolly Jan 2015. This is just to wish you a happy weekend! From our family to yours. A refreshing change from the ‘Happy New Month’ crap that makes the rounds every time another month rolls in. I told her this much when we saw each other in the evening and it turns out she can’t stand the ‘happy new month’ greeting either. Peas of a pod. Any surprise why we’re besties? So it’s February 1. A new month. The longest month has come to an end. FINALLY. Tired of how January simply refused to end, someone called it the 65th month of the year. I totally agreed with him. It just kept on dragging for days… Not anymore. Welcome February. Hello Valentine. What’s up, elections? Here in Nigeria this month, we’ll be mixing loving and voting on the same day. Subtly telling one another to let love reign and not wage war so that the process of elections (especially during and after) can take occur peacefully. Seriously??? Eh…let’s hope it works. Today, I’m reflecting on the month just gone by. Thanks to Muimui’s message which inspired the idea, I’ll be doing that at the beginning of every month as regards my resolve in 2015. Most days in January, I asked myself: Did I live today well? Did I laugh often? Am I living joyfully, thankfully, prayerfully, in more colour?  Salsexercise, slow down and not multitask? Turning all my resolutions into prodding, slightly uncomfortable queries. Sometimes, I did. Sometimes, I didn’t. Some days, I didn’t even read the resolutions which are saved on my cell for easy access but I never forgot to repeat the inquisition the very next day. Normally, I’d wait until the half year mark before I did a self – assessment of my performance and, most often than not, find myself coming woefully short of my grand expectations. Not this time. Not this year. I read somewhere that it’s the months between March  and August that test our abilities to stick”more

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This sugar is made of salt

In the last decade or so, my food life has altered considerably, and I’m always reminded of that fact every time I visit my mum’s. Last month’s visit was no different. Her vegetable sauce is devoid of the tomato taste I’m now accustomed to in efo riro. My palate waits for the fish and tomato flavour in her fried beans dish when I know there won’t be any because I didn’t cook it. White rice and red stew feature constantly any time rice is the food of choice while that combo begs for a place in my kitchen most of the time. Eggs are always a mix of cream and red (pepper & tomatoes) colours; mine are cream, white and green (green pepper) with the taste of paprika, garlic and Knorr seasoning. All of these (and other meals, habits of hers) I can stand, it’s the cubed – sugar she still uses as a sweetener that I am yet to come to terms with. After all these years. I grew up with them and still see them every time at her house. She doesn’t seem to trust its easily–dissolving sister – the granulated kind. Maybe because there is a tendency to take more than is needed or that a relative jokingly commented about it being mixed with other substances to reduce its potency and increase its quantity or it’s just her genuine love for that particular kind and the brand that makes it. St. Louis should begin to give her a percentage of its profits if that’s the case. Whatever her reasons, we’re stuck with them whenever we are in her house, and every time I use them to sweeten anything, I’m convinced that I made the right choice using the granulated kind. The first time a nephew of mine saw them, he yelled: ‘Marshmallow!’ bringing a smile to my face and his mum’s. But nothing prepared me for Chairman’s reaction when he saw them (and realized what they were) for the first time too last year. His excitement was infectious; his sister caught on too. Perhaps to humour him”more

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A December to Remember

‘I’m Annie’, Chairman declares loudly. ‘My name is Gabby,’ T states just as loudly, not to be out done by her brother. For the past couple of days, the children have been saying these statements often. Annie and Gabby are two of their cousins whom they met at their grandma’s and spent the recently concluded holidays with amongst seven other adrenaline – filled, very active children. It is nine days today since we returned to Lagos, and back to our lives but apparently the memories of the holidays are still playing back constantly in the minds of my children. And who can blame them? They had a whale of a time with their cousins! There was Santa Claus with four presents each per child, their favourite cartoon characters featuring prominently. Barney. Mickey Mouse. Ben 10.      They played games and had competitions – artwork (creating a Christmas card) competition, dancing chairs and fashion parade. Of course, this meant more presents. Yay! They had more ice – cream and sweets during the two – week period than I would normally allow in two months.  Yum, yum. Everyday was Christmas day at grandma’s! Or how else would they describe going to bed after saying goodnight to their cousins and waking up the next day to a full schedule of play, eat, play, eat, more playing, more eating surrounded by cousins ’till nightfall again? They went to an amusement park. Twice. This was perhaps the highlight of the entire trip. And on both occasions, the nine of them had the entire park to themselves. For a minimal fee and more than two hours, the children knocked themselves out with delirious, we-can’t-believe-this-is-happening fun. .   They only took quick water breaks and another brief one for snacking. This was no bouncy castle, choo- choo train – ride park powered by electricity. Almost every fun equipment is manually – operated. The same way they were when my siblings and I visited over twenty years ago. Yes, the park is that old and we have a sentimental (and physical) attachment to it. Imagine, our children are”more

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In 2015, I resolve to…

Live thankfully Like T who appreciates EVERYTHING I do for her in grand style – from making her favourite meals to taking her out to play parks to buying her gifts – thus making me blush and pleased at the same time, I’d live the same way this year. Thankful for everything. Big and minuscule.   Live joyfully   Every  morning, I’ll wake up with the awe of just being alive and begin each day with a smile.   Laugh often    …because it it the best medicine                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Live prayerfully   Singing Prayer is the key, prayer is the key Prayer is the master key Jesus started with prayer and ended with prayer Prayer is the master key I ended 2014 with prayer and began 2015 with one. I seem to be on the right track and staying right there means lacing the year with even more.   Live every day well   …and not let a hell – bent heart leave me bitter Love much   Live in more colour Stimulate my productivity with a red clock. Continue writing my notes on a yellow pad (started this in September 2014) to promote my mental growth. Increase my balance and stability with a green rug.  And use”more

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Closing with cleansing

Here’s the second post. Yesterday I finally did it. The detox I have been procrastinating for almost the entire year. Alone in the kitchen two days ago early in the morning while making breakfast for the children, I noticed fruits crowding the tops of almost all the cabinets. The ones my sister, my sisters – in – law and I bought as well the others given to the family as presents. Paw paws, oranges, bananas, water melons, pears and limes stared back at me. The thought of my-not -having-the -time -to- do -a- three -day -long – water- and – fruit detox(that a family friend had painstakingly detailed on a foolscap paper at the beginning of the year) flashed through my mind. The book I was reading ‘Take Time for You ‘ dedicated two pages to ‘cleansing your temple’ and outlining a simple one – day fruit & vegetable detox plan. ‘A cleanse supplements what the liver already does, but many people believe in a detox’s ability to boost energy, clear the skin, and provide mental clarity.’ I am one of those people. And I was on holiday surrounded by family. So what was stopping me from doing it now? If for any reason I passed out in the process, I was surrounded by capable family hands. Game on! For starters, I wasn’t going to do the three-day detox. I’d begin small with a full one day fast, see how I fare and move on from there. The book states that a simple approach involves setting as one full day for it. The night before,eat a light meal. Check. Avoid caffeine, tobacco and alcohol. Check. Go to bed early and allow yourself to awake naturally in the morning. Eh…no check. I stayed up late reading the book and had to alarm -clock awake myself the next day. Begin the next day with a steaming hot shower or bath. Mine was the complete opposite – an icy cold bath in the dry harmattan weather. No way a hot one was going to cool down my body of the rivulets of sweat”more

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1.2.3, 1.2.3…sweat

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2015! Here’s to good news, glad tidings and God’s blessings all year round. Since my last post last year (sounds like a lifetime ago) where I mentioned photo – uploading issues, I also discovered I couldn’t upload posts either! For about eight days. Turns out WordPress was compiling a report on my blogging activity which I saw on December 30. Thanks WordPress. Mighty nice and thoughtful of you. Next time please let me in on your plans so that you don’t frustrate mine. The next two posts, beginning with the one below, were due last month at specific times but couldn’t be uploaded because of the glitch. Here’s the first. At 6.30am this morning, I found myself jogging down the main road of our neighbourhood behind my younger sister. The last time I did this was…I can’t even remember. This running and huffing and feeling the wind rush past me is not my style. I don’t jog for exercise. I’d rather rhumba my way to weight loss or salsa to my desired size. I have diligently salsexercised almost throughout the year and it has paid off in the loose fit of some of my clothes. So I can keep doing what works for me. However, different strokes, different  folks. My  sister, Pru, swears by jogging and has stuck to it for quite a while now. Apparently it does wonders for  her physique. And every December when we meet at our mum’s, she’d ask that I accompany her on her journey to size 0. So I do immediately after 30 minutes of sizzling salsexercise.  In 2013 and 2012, I walked way behind her while she jogged, hopped and made as though she wanted to take off from a tarmac. When she gets tired, she lags behind and joins me in my morning stroll. This year I decided to give it a go . After 15 minutes of hard skipping(I haven’t salsexercised in more than a month. Read my post titled ‘I need to find my own strength’ to find out why) we hit the road and”more

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Bangers, bisco ‘n’ brawls

Last night the children began their annual bisco – lightening tradition. All nine of them. Nine children ranging from ages 7 1/2 – 2 1/2. Picture this. Nine adrenaline – filled, ever – ready for action, chattering, racing, never – tiring little humans. Their gathering and constant interaction recipes for a lot of things. I’d have thought two days together was too early for any kind of altercation but there have been at least three already. With threats of slaps and promised beating. Now add bisco – lightening to this mix. Almost total chaos.Spontaneous screaming in reaction to the fire cracker like quality and blaze of the bisco; scolding one another as they run riot, lighted bisco in hand, and willing the fire to last longer; and trying to cheat one another of taking more bisco sticks, leaving the younger ones in near tears as the older ones are always faster to bulldoze their way to this goal.   My sister in law, Eva, spices up the activity with glow-in-the-dark head bands. The girls look pretty in a Minnie mouse creation while the boys’ vary from Santa Claus to numbers to lighted decorated strands.  The bands give them a halo that can only be appropriate for children. Watching them run amok on the balcony with their bisco sticks is like watching angels rush around heaven preparing for the arrival of a new guest. Without the noise and chaos though. Bangers (faux explosives) going off add more sounds to the cacophony of ear – splitting screams already renting the air. As though we need more noise. Like higher prices of consumer goods and the dry harmattan wind, the sound of bangers is also a signature feature of the Yuletide. But I can swear that the boom – boom – is – that- an -earthquake – in – the – works? kinda sounds I hear in Benin are unique to the area. Boom – banger or not, the children are veterans to its effect and think of it as a bonus to their bisco blaze. It is easy, very easy, to shepherd”more

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Our Red Sand Christmas

Here’s another reason I like December: the holidays at grandma’s! Definitely not for me but for the children. I have to admit though that it takes the pressure off me to provide entertainment and excitement for them. So I’m always game for a visit to grandma’s. The children join their cousins, play and trouble one another, bring the house down with an increasing cacophony of sounds and try to pack into two weeks all the fun they’ve missed having together throughout the year. As though trying to make up for lost time while shoring up enough playtime memories to last until they meet up again. For the adults among them, it is a working holiday. We cook, clean, care and repeat until it’s time to go back to our different lives. But first we had to make the road trip to red sand land Benin, and sit it out for four hours or more (depending on the state of the highway and its accompanying Christmastime travelling traffic. Usually, we are out of Lagos on any of the weekdays and way before the highway bears striking resemblance to the central business district. Not this time.The children’s school closed for the holidays on December 19 and we were grandma’s house  – bound two days ago. Here’s some of our 5 1/2 – hour trip in pictures.

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