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Sand, Sun & (loads of) Fun: The reason, the highlight of the trip
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Sand, Sun & (loads of) Fun – Part V
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Sand, Sun & (loads of) Fun – Part IV
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Sand, Sun & (loads of) Fun – Part III
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Sand, Sun & (loads of) Fun – Part II
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Sand, Sun & (loads of) Fun – Part I
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A parent’s worst nightmare
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Booking a place in the world
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My name is…
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Age is just…a stage

Sand, Sun & (loads of) Fun: The reason, the highlight of the trip

The next day, in the afternoon, Uncle Tg got married to Aunty Cathy. (I don’t know how, in all my recount of this trip, I forgot to mention that Aunty Cathy and her entire family of very fair – skinned people became part of our entourage too. My sincere apologies. We met her siblings and their family, as well as her mummy. All nice and fun people, adding to all the laughter and camaraderie that was going on). So that’s why we’re here. To celebrate both of them. All that travelling, the family gathering and everything else was geared towards this most important day of their lives; their wedding day. Starting their lives together, forever. Below is something mummy put up on her Facebook page that will be replicated here. No long thing. I Hope You Dance I hope you never lose your sense of wonder, You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger, May you never take one single breath for granted, God forbid love ever leave you empty handed, I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean, Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens, Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance, And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance. I hope you dance I hope you dance. I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance, Never settle for the path of least resistance Living might mean taking chances but they’re worth taking, Loving might be a mistake but it’s worth making, Don’t let some hell bent heart leave you bitter, When you come close to selling out reconsider, Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance, And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance. I hope you dance I hope you dance. Time is a wheel in constant motion always rolling us along, Tell me who wants to look back on their years and wonder where those years have gone                              “more

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Sand, Sun & (loads of) Fun – Part V

For the next couple of minutes (It felt like hours), the car dipped, swerved and screeched. Every time, we screamed. Every time, I thought this was the end of life as I knew it. Every time, I was wrong. We were all alive to go through the next dip, screech, swerve and scream. This was the desert safari, I came to know later. More like the desert – roller coaster – ride – of – near- freaking – death, if you ask me! Was I being punished for complaining earlier on? About the never – ending sand and no – destination driving? Right now, I’ll take those over this…this…We dip again. Aaaaarrrrrrrgghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! When we come up for air, I notice mummy’s camera cellphone in the air and the accompanying clicking sounds. Huh? ‘You can still take photos?’ Aunt Connie turns around briefly to ask before another heart – stopping dip and the subsequent screams. ‘I put it on the sequence setting.’ Mummy manages out. ‘So it can take multiple photos at a time.’ Another screech and I am so sure the car is going to fall over sideways this time but no, it’s revving up for another daredevil dip. Aaargghhh! Only the ladies are screaming in this car! Little brother’s just smiling and saying:’ Mummy, we going up and down’ while Gareth’s laughing out loud in front. Are these two for real? Or aren’t we all living the same adrenaline – pumping (high blood pressure) experience??? More dips. More swerves. More screeches. More screams. Everything becomes one big, blurred sand wave except the screams that stay as sharp as ever. Finally, finally, finally…and it could have come sooner…we come to a complete stop after another death – defying dip. The driver turns around with a grin to ask if everyone’s all right. Only someone with Odi – ichi would be after that roller coaster. I’m so sure I’m going to throw up as we all climb out (stumble out is more like it) of the car barefooted in other to join others for a little break. The desert sand is”more

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Sand, Sun & (loads of) Fun – Part IV

Breakfast is palm – sized, fluffy pancakes and croissants, finger – sized sausages, boiled eggs, melt -in-your-mouth, really cute inni-mini muffins and fruit yoghurt. Yum. Yum. Yum. Their aroma wakes me up the next morning. I’m almost reluctant to get out of my bed. It’s so sleep – inducing with soft pillows and a duvet. With all white bedding, it’s almost like heaven. Pure, white bliss. But bliss won’t feed me. My stomach groans and I’m out in a flash. Little brother, in the twin bed close to mine, just rolls on his side and continues sleeping. The bed , most definitely, has the same effect on him. A longer one. I would have remained in the bath for ever, playing with the moveable shower hose but hunger called the shots. I have more than enough of everything on my plate and look forward to more breakfast spreads like this. How wrong I was! Subsequent breakfasts took place downstairs in the restaurant and there was a wide variety of fruits and pastries and cereals; their accompaniments – ham, eggs, sausages, bacon, baked beans; drinks – yoghurt, juices, hot chocolate, water, tea; and spread – butter, jam, honey… The breakfast upstairs was just a promise of what was to come. And when it came, I took my pick of almost the entire lot and stuffed my face. Besides the food, going for breakfast helped me hone my elevator operator skills. Back to the first breakfast though. I’m almost done when dad whizzes by. A part on my head, ‘good morning’ to two of the women in his life and he announces: ‘I’m going down for breakfast.’ While mummy waits for little brother to awake, she sorts out our clothes to go out with while I catch up on some cartoon. Fully sated. ’T’, a sharp, clear, tiny voice breaks into my concentration after a while. I turn around. Little brother is up. In the afternoon… We have been driving for so long that Ella asks her mum if we’re driving into Africa. Good question, cousin. Ella, her mum (Aunt Connie) and”more

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Sand, Sun & (loads of) Fun – Part III

How can anyone want to sleep with a view like this? I can’t help asking silently as I join little brother by the wide windows to stare at the scene spread out in front of us. We are presently in our hotel apartment, having showered and done lunch downstairs. Though it’s only 9 a.m. back in Lagos. This country is three hours ahead. And oh yes, I assumed my elevator operator duties with mummy as my guide to the appropriate letters, numbers and signs buttons. Thus beginning my goal to take a lifetime’s worth of rides before we leave this place. My love for elevators is only second to that of escalators. On our way back up, I overhear mummy say to dad: ‘All I want to do now is sleep. For 13 hours straight.’ Looking out at the scanty street below, I think she does need the sleep. She has bags (under her eyes) that could possibly rival that black one she carries. She must have slept for only an hour or two during the flight while ensuring her children were comfortable. Mummy knows all too well that we’ll both soon tire of this view, so she works on the TV set in the parlour and finds the only cartoon channel available. In a flash, we abandon the window and its amazing view for ‘Uncle Grandpa’. Then she stretches out on the longest – looking sofa for her beauty sleep. Big mistake. The parlour has just enough space for little brother and I to do three things almost at the same time — chase each other, stare through the wide windows AND still throw in cartoon watching. The combined noise from the TV and ours is a LITTLE bit too much. What kind of sleep is mummy hoping to get in the middle of all these? And for how long? Not long because she’s soon sleepily telling us to keep it down. As she attempts to sleep again, the intercom (I hadn’t noticed that before) close to her gives off a startlingly ring. Ah, something else to get my”more

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Sand, Sun & (loads of) Fun – Part II

I am still half – asleep when we land in wherever. I become fully awake when the heat introduced itself to me at the exit of the airplane. Thank God for the waiting bus and its cool interior. ‘This must be the land of three Suns, shinning all at once,’I hear mummy mutter, not stating exactly where we are. It is Uncle Jnr who is more specific about our location. ‘This is where Garfield always parcels Nermal to,’ he says,followed by low chuckles from daddy and some uncles nearby. So that’s where we are! Wicked, wicked Garfield. The heat will roast the cutest cat alive while simultaneously frying his brain. The short bus ride ends in another very cool destination – the airport building. As we queue to be checked by customs officials, little brother and I indulge in a stand – up breakfast. Hot, delicious chicken rolls ( I ask for seconds), biscuits, apple juice and cool, refreshing water. Now I know why mummy carries that black, monstrous bag of hers around; it contains a microwave, a pantry and a fridge. By the time everyone in our entourage gets their luggage, mummy, little brother & I have taken a tour of the airport, gone to the bathroom and window shopped. And just before we eventually exit, little brother & I happily (tentatively at first) try out a rather royal – looking, stationery camel. The photos you see were taken by daddy. There’s another bus ride and I’m dosing off to Uncle Otali and Aunty Adula taking selfies. That breakfast was gooo… Some time later… I disagree with mummy on the three Suns theory. There are five of them. Their collective glare nudges me awake again but with little impact this time. I’m still safely ensconced in the bus and when I look out the window, nothing prepares me for what I see. The scenery is beautiful, breathtaking… I join others in the bus to stare, stare, stare and stare again. Some of whom are clicking away with cameras, iPads or cellphones. For a moment, I don’t mind the heat.”more

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Sand, Sun & (loads of) Fun – Part I

We’re sorry. Mummy hasn’t posted in a while. Life happened and she’s yet to recover from it. So I’m writing this on her behalf. I thought no trips were taking place this year. Then one Sunday morning, late in August, mummy assembled matching suitcases in our room. For the next three days, she neatly arranged all our stuff into both of them. Toiletries, shoes, lotions, sponges, books went into one suitcase. Clothes – day, night, outing, church, swimwear – went into the other. When I asked if we were going to see grandma, she answered ‘Yes’ but also said we were going to see Uncle Tg and something else I didn’t understand until later. Uncle Tg is mum’s younger brother. He lives with us (or used to) until very recently when we’d see him once or twice a week. He’s one very tall, very fair – skinned, very fine, very bearded man who is not only a lot of fun but always buys us very, very cool stuff — books and toys. He’s also mummy’s unpaid and unofficial driver whenever he’s around. I’m still trying to figure out how he’s connected to this trip. Grandma, Uncle Jnr and another uncle I do not know show up in the house two days after mummy’s packing begins. Going to grandma’s is definitely not where we are going. So where, where were we headed this time? Aunty Adula appears a few hours before we leave the house and goes with us. We don’t stop until we arrive at a very crowded airport. There we meet up with more familiar and unfamiliar aunties and uncles  (some of whom I recognize as Uncle Tg’s friends). Mummy does a lot of greeting, smiling, introducing and talking. She knows everyone and makes us greet them too. She also does a lot of writing and more talking concerning our luggage. After a while, I lose interest in the activities because of the crowd, the noise and the unending standing. I just made sure I hold on to one of Aunty Adula’s hands. Tightly. By the time we board”more

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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 as theirs and disappeared. She could have walked out of the store and into the mall in search of him. Anything. But no, he found her at an empty check out point, happily tapping away. Those were five minutes. These 120 days seem like a continuing episode in an endless horror, heartbreaking series. Little or no hope of finding (and rescuing) them. Less encouraging words and actions from those supposedly searching for them. Just more gory –upon- gory tales from those lucky to escape the ordeal. How does a parent contemplate that his/her child might be forcibly and violently used as a sex slave amongst other unimaginable vices? How does s/he come to terms with the fact that when the child returns alive, eventually, whenever, there is the possibility of said child been messed up psychologically, physically and emotionally forever? In addition to lost childhood time. These things only happen”more

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Booking a place in the world

‘The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page.’ – St. Augustine I didn’t introduce T to the world of books early but when I did, we more than made up for whatever lost time. I added her brother into that world last year. Fortunately both children love books, reading, writing and all that jazz. Every opportunity to indulge in these activities means quiet and peace in my world, and I’m their biggest cheerleader. ‘No entertainment is so cheap as reading nor any pleasure so lasting.’ – Lady M.W. Montagu I must mention here that T loves, loves books ( a tad more than her brother) and takes every chance she gets to attempt to read and sound out familiar and new words, and sentences. It is only natural that one of her favourite moments is bedtime reading. She chooses the book, the story and reads what she can, displaying her reading prowess, learning new words and testing her memory. She also points out corresponding photos and asks questions when something is unclear. Before now, I’d read the story for her brother and her while they both listened attentively. Not anymore. In the last year, they have both grown and insist on being fully involved in this nighttime activity. This means two books, three voices, extended bedtime reading period, and a lifetime of benefits for both of them. Since starting school and recognizing the alphabets, Chairman literarily hijacks his bedtime book and reads it himself, complete with gestures and animal sounds. T is no different. Her reading confidence and repertoire of words have both increased proportionally to her height and, mummy is only remembered at word roadblocks. Books, like humans, entertain us, comfort us, challenge us and inspire us.They are also fantastic! Not only do they contain rich and varied language that fires the imagination but the children are required to work their memory to follow the plot … and take them to other exotic places. Bedtime reading also means: I get to spend time bonding with them. They develop stronger reading skills. New”more

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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 a time I actually contemplated going by my English name but killed the idea before it took root. I liked my name. The way it rolled off the tongue. The emphasis on the second syllable. It was rare. Traditional. Unique. And somewhat unpronounceable for some. Forgettable for others. Mangled by many. Can I call you ‘Id?’ No, you may not. This was the beginning of the era of shorter versions of names by using the first two letters. Itohan became It. Ijeoma became Ij. Izegbuwa became Iz. Some genius thought I’d like to be called ‘Id’. How wrong he was! I couldn’t stand the contraction and didn’t like the fact that ‘Id’ could mean ‘Identification.’ Call me finicky but I was named this way for a reason; please indulge me and call the unabridged version of it. They say it is not what you are called but what you answer”more

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Age is just…a stage

First, they are little and cuddly. A mouth full of spit and adoring, toothless smiles. Then they crawl and learn to walk. One wobbly step after another until they find their balance and you’re rapidly moving items out of their way as they prance around confidently. Their first spoken word (da-da, ma –ma, whichever) just melts your heart: ‘Oh, my baby!’ By 2 – 3 years, they have a great (amazingly so!) grasp of the negative ‘no’ and how to use it appropriately. A close cousin to this is the tantrums they display. This is what experts call the ‘terrible twos’ and, if I may add, the ‘tantrumic’ threes. And this is where Chairman is presently at: throwing tantrums when he doesn’t get his way while throwing himself on the floor, sometimes. It’s a stage; it’s a stage, I tell myself silently, and this is the accompanying, unfolding drama. Sometimes I allow him release the full range of his three year old angst, then tell him quietly, calmly (and in his ears so that he doesn’t miss a word) what to expect when he re – enacts the act again. Other times, I truncate the display with stern, firm words (sometimes they come out louder than I hoped). Do these methods of mine work? Sometimes. For a while. Then he’s back to his performing act again. I think he’ll do very well as an actor; he just needs the relevant training to nurture this talent of his. While I do not like these tantrums and deal with them as they happen, I’m happy he doesn’t pull them out in public. If not, he’d be grounded until he’s 60! I understand this is usual at this age but am I asking too much if my child isn’t part of the norm or some statistic? Fast forward a few years and that where my dear T is – the ‘oversabi’ sevens. No, I think it began when she was six. I thought it was only teens and twenty – somethings who ‘clearly’ knew better than their parents. Uh uh. Know–it- all seven”more

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