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I don’t like cigarettes…and I like to smoke!
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I, Juggler
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Why baking during the weekend is a no, no for me.
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Red Sand: Reconnecting…
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Red Sand: Reporting Live from Grandma’s House.
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Red Sand: Are We There Yet?
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More of them
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In September
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The end of the month
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Question

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, on time, never late. Early, early, early. Him: African time specialist; he does a grand, fashionably late entrance quite well. Me: Old – fashioned, traditionalist, apply the rules, follow the process. Him: Operates in the new age. Rules were made to be broken. If not, why were they made in the first place? Me: I don’t  suffer fools gladly. Him: Gives second, third, even fourth chances with rope enough to voluntarily hang yourself by yourself. Me. ‘Organizer of the Year.’ I could win that award. I love things in their proper place, everything and everywhere arranged neatly, and the world’s at peace. Him: This trait of mine drives him up the wall! Not that he’s messy or anything like that but he doesn’t mind a little disarray here or there as long as it’s not unhealthy. We’re not like two magnets coming together. No. We’re more like puzzle pieces fitting:”more

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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 send out a mail while listening to a recording to produce a report out of? Perusing a document while an interviewee stated his/her case was all in a day’s work too. Let’s not even go to what I did during meetings. I could be taking notes while working on my next project as well. Once after such, a colleague asked to look through my notes and was stunned to see, amongst that which I had written down, two pages of an article for the company’s newsletter I was compiling! I was a professional juggler but my act was on the ground, not in the air. It was an absolute thrill to include this trait in my resume. Invariably informing prospective employers that I could be a jack of two or more ‘trades’ and focussed on none. I took it off three years ago. Despite the mistakes I made while at”more

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Why baking during the weekend is a no, no for me.

  …because the children are around!   Chairman wants to know what everything! His little yellow fingers hover over the cup of desiccated coconut as he asks: ‘Mummy, what is this?’ I remove it from his reach just in time. Unfazed, he moves onto the raisins resting in a plate nearby. T wants to lend a hand! ‘Mummy, let me do it.’ She helps whisk the eggs while I pray she doesn’t spill them and, with me supporting her, sifts the flour. They taste most of my fruit and leave me short! More often than not, there’s always fresh fruit going into the cakes I bake except raisins and desiccated coconut. It’s while I’m dicing the apples that the children want some or when I’m about to mash the bananas that they appear with outstretched hands and toothy smiles. I don’t mind giving out my oranges because it’s usually the zest I need but would out rightly refuse to share the lime because I use both the zest and the juice. Nevertheless, they still get some of the fruit in sight. Energy which was supposed to be channeled towards the task at hand is expended being a drill sergeant! ‘Don’t touch anything!’ ‘Leave around the table!’ ‘Put the spatula down!’ ‘Didn’t I just say you should sit down?!’ ‘Don’t go near the oven!’ ‘No, you can’t taste the vanilla extract!’ The count and the countess! They help place the muffin paper liners and count them over and again until I’m almost dizzy just hearing them. T’s counting more than the available 12 muffin spaces while Chairman gets to 10 and starts from the top. The only time there’s some modicum of peace is when the batter’s in the oven and they are busy polishing off what’s left of it. Thankfully, they are only two of them; so T gets the bowl and Chairman’s content with the spatula. As I wash bits of batter out of Chairman’s hands, face and hair, I notice that soon he’d be as tall as the sink and I won’t need to help him reach the”more

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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!’ I countered, laughing. ‘That would be p-h-a-t.’ He complimented easily, opening a door to let me by. His pair of glasses came on as soon as he sat down opposite me. Aha! Now that was the complete look I knew and remembered. Then we began talking, trying to catch up on everyone and everything. Pockets of memories began to trickle in before it became a deluge. Did I remember Biggie? She had remarried and was based in Abuja. These were her numbers. He was in touch with Emmanuel and Linda but talked mostly with Emmanuel. Victor was in town last week for a week. Wasn’t it Jennifer who had travelled abroad? How come I’m saying it’s Precious?! Ken was out of the country too. What did I do now? What part of Lagos did I stay? How often did I visit? What did my beau do? His children just returned”more

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Red Sand: Reporting Live from Grandma’s House.

‘Laolu’s not sitting down.’ Ebru’s voice reached me from behind as I did the dishes. ‘Yoma’s eating her meat before finishing her food!’ Lily bellowed from the dinning table. ‘Annie fell down.’ T informed me. Yes. They were all there…well, almost all of them. emo committee. Representing their families, gathering for the holidays. While still single, living away from home and by some unspoken code, every year end saw my siblings and me converge at my mum’s for the Christmas and New Year celebrations, armed with gifts for everyone. By the time we all got married, the number of houseguests swelled with spouses and offspring, and has continued to swell. At first, the presents increased to encompass everyone but in recent years, only the children get to unwrap shiny Christmasy parcels and given by an in – house Santa Claus too! From Iceland, Norway and, three years ago when my family was absent, Agbarho. Yeah, right. Santa Claus is actually one of my elder brothers dressed in the red and white outfit, and loads of cotton wool stuck on his fair face for beard. The focus has shifted to the children. There is more emphasis on their excitement, enjoyment and holiday experience. Because in actual fact, it is now their time. The adults (parents and grandparents alike) are just present to ensure adequate food, fun, drinks and more fun. By extension, the noise level of the house went through the roof. What did we expect with nine active, adrenalin – filled children between the ages of one and seven running and screaming around the house for two weeks? More than half of them never took afternoon naps! Let’s not talk about the dirt – level, the clean-up frequency or what we had to do to keep the house constantly live – able during that period. Hurray! It was another Yuletide Season at Grandma’s. *emo committee* – committee of children.

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Red Sand: Are We There Yet?

I stank. Of vomit. Thankfully not the sort that contained oil and spices. Rather dried fruit and wheat. But I stank all the same. My attempts at cleaning up with moist wipes allowed me breathe in some version of clean air for a while until the Harmattan wind dried up my clothing, leaving pale brown streaks of Chairman’s breakfast behind. Then the smell re – introduced itself to me. We met an amazing traffic jam on our way out and spent two and a half hours getting out of Lagos. In that traffic was when T uttered suddenly: ‘Mummy, I want to throw up.’ I was holding up a ziploc bag for her as she emptied her bowels into it when Chairman (who was sitting on my lap) thought vomiting was trending and, without warning, released his breakfast on both of us. Now I was worried. The air conditioner went off and the windows came down. Cleaning up, at the time, was the least thing on my mind as I checked both of them for fever but found none. Emmanuel, the man in the driver’s seat, asked if I wanted to continue the journey. By now, we were out of the gridlock. I nodded, then began to clean up. Just then, T asked if we were going to see Grandma for the 900, 000th time that morning. Mad, mad traffic at Ore. Worse than the previous encounter out of Lagos. Chairman and T have just emptied a 500ml pack of orange juice and I’m beginning to count. I reach 8 before, as if on cue, T says she wants to take a leak, and joins the hoard of travellers (mostly children) doing the same on the side of the road. An FRSC official advises some of us to turn back and take an alternative route. There’s no telling when this jam will ease off. And coming from a road traffic worker, there are no prizes for taking his advice. The alternative route is no more than a bush path than can just about take an average-sized car. There are six”more

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More of them

The following takes place between July 19th and August 23rd. For national peace, local stability and my personal peace of mind, I usually do not tell T when we’re going visiting or on holidays or if we’re expecting family who are staying for more than a week. She finds out when we arrive at our destination or just before our guests walk through the front door. If not, she’ll relentlessly hound me about the when, who and where until she wears me out. This time was no different; some of her cousins were visiting and she knew nothing about about it. Others were joining in on the holiday fun later on but both of us would know when it became necessary. As always, I knew first then she (who was on a need – to – know basis) became aware much, much, much later. Nevertheless, at any given time between the period stated above, there were at least four children in the house — raising the decibel of noise significantly, testing my  partially horned referee skills (and non – existent UEFA ones) while providing material for this blog. All of T’s cousins arrived at different times of day as though to signal their varying and interesting characters. Ebru: Her smiling face was very close to the window as the car drove into the compound. She arrived at night. Her mum (my younger sister) was in town for a week-long training and three – year – old Ebru aka Don Droopy (Chairman‘s Oga-at-the-top) accompanied her on the trip. Words like quiet and unobtrusive begin to describe this cute, light – skinned little angel. Reminding you every time of her mother every time you looked at her. For some reason, she was ‘besties’ with Tolu – ani (She divides the name into two when she calls it) but reported every action (good and not-so-good) of Chairman’s while refusing to play with him. Both of which I found rather entertaining to observe. In the midst of her cousins, she was like a fish out of water; most of the time watching them play and scream instead”more

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In September

Chairman began school today. And like any mother leaving her child in school for the first time, I was slightly worried. Apprehensive. What would his attitude towards this new part of his life be? Would he cry? Cling desperately to me when I turned to leave? Give his teachers cause for concern? By the time July rolled in, I began sounding him out about this impending phase.’You’re going to school in September.’ I’d say. ‘Yesh.’ He’d agree and start undressing, thinking we were going to pick T up from school. Then, whenever he upset me, the statement would come out as a threat. ‘You’re going to school in September!’ ‘Yesh.’ He’d still agree and carry on with his life. By now realizing it meant something else but not exactly sure what. One morning, he was crying as T left for school, asking to go along with her. I comforted him with the same words. ‘Don’t worry, dear. You’re going to school soon.’ ‘Yesh,’ he replied tearfully. ‘In epepmber.’ In September. He clutched his lunch bag tightly and silently stared straight ahead as we neared the school. It was nothing new to him; he had accompanied me time and again to pick up his sister. We arrived at the gate and one of T’s former teachers carried him, held T’s hand and whisked them both to a general assembly that was already underway, leaving me to sort out uniforms, fees and miscellaneous. It was fifteen minutes later when I walked into KG 1 to see a smiling Chairman wave to me before going back to the activity he and a new classmate (and potential buddy) were engaged in. I need not have bothered; he was happy in his new surroundings. School seemed to promise fun and other interesting things. He looked eager to discover them all. I guess the conscious and not – so conscious preparations for this day had paid off after all. I made to leave as more new children shuffled into the class. As if on cue, Chairman got up and began allotting chairs to everyone. ‘You, zit”more

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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 and thereafter. Maybe review the list of milestones I should have reached at this stage and pat/scold myself accordingly. None of that is going to happen now. My beau lost a friend, Bosun, on Tuesday last week, to the recklessness of an armed robber.  Between the time he received the news (as well as the gory details of the incident) and attending the funeral rites a week later, he was quite a subdued man. He immersed himself in the organization of the impending event which only fuelled his sadness. He had known Bosun for a little less than five years but he always talked about him. Good things, always good things. Funny things too but always good things. I heard more of those that week. Then on the day of the funeral, I heard more from Bosun’s family and friends, and my beau let out all he had been holding”more

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