Friday, 23 May 2014

@30; Single and a Pariah? Part II

Read the first part here

It was exactly twenty minutes past 7, still no call nor text from the office. Torn between conscience and rationale, Dara decided to appear at work after all with plans of hiding out in the confines of her cubicle- if that will ever be possible on a day like this!

“Ouch” she winced as her hand connected with the water.

It was icy cold. She took her time walking back to the white-walled kitchen to get some hot water. Tempted to read some of the text messages while she waited, musing for several seconds before picking up a random magazine instead.

The clock chimed 8 O’ Clock as she dove for her Gucci bag lying on the cluttered bed and the key to her ‘daddy-lent-me Hyundai’. With a last fleeting look at the hallway mirror, she hoped she made the right choice settling for the teal jacquard box pleat dress clinging delectably to her 5ft9 figure, matching it with a saffron-coloured six-inch stiletto.

 “Ah! Yes, this should signify a happy mood at least” her eyes lingered a tad longer on the puffs still beneath her eyes before placing her rarely worn Zegna Geek chic glasses on.

First Central hotel complex sitting in the suburbs of Osborne Foreshore Estate was just a couple of minutes’ drive from her Lekki home and thankfully, it was a good time to head out on a Monday morning.

8:55 am

Firm smile in place with her glasses still on, Dara made her way through the vast reception with brief nods and perfunctory ‘hellos’ to the front desk personnel. An elevator ride to the 10th floor got her to the office level which housed senior managers. She was lucky to have a space here she knew, Austin fought for his team members to share an office on the same floor with him.

“H...hey”, all four pairs of eyes turned to her at once and chorused.

“Birthday princess, what the heck happened to your you and your phone?” Prisca’s voice ruled the day as she fixed a menacing motherly gaze on Dara with her forefinger pirouetting in the air. The pretty ‘dark princess’ as popularly called was the Client Service executive overseeing the client communications and work flow budgets.

“Awww…I sincerely apologise,” Dara started, going low on one knee. “I honestly don’t know where I dumped my phone. I must have left it somewhere. I can imagine all the calls and messages but why didn’t you try to reach me on my official line?”

“Well, no one even thought about that” replied Beatrice, the third lady in the team of five. “Anyways Happy Birthday love, wishing you EEEEVERYTHING beautiful,” she slurred standing up to give Dara a cuddly hug.

“Happy Birthday” Prisca chimed in…curiosity dancing around in her smoky eyes.

“Happy Birthday my love,” that from Walter. His towering height almost swallowing up Dara despite hers. “I wrote a song for you, you can listen to it as soon as you settle” he winked.

“You all are so sweet, thank you” Dara said as she extended her arms to be pulled in for a bear hug by the last member of the team, Jed. “Anything for you sweets,” Jed whispered back as his breath settled on her ear.

Feet shuffled all around, a signal that it was time to return to work. “Okay. Back to work y’all,” Prisca called out and Dara made her way to her cubicle not exactly surprised to find the lined-up cards but stunned that no one mentioned a waiting cake too.

She chuckled to herself and hoped to God she wouldn’t burst into tears.

“Please has anyone seen Austin this morning?” she called out to no one in particular

Wednesday, 21 May 2014


Who are these people?

Warlords or dumb thugs?

Joy dashers. Dream killers. Breath hackers.

Damn blood suckers!

The news are chilling; who still walks freely in these cities?

Adamawa. Borno. Kano. Yobe. Now Jos! How many more 'bloods' before they are stopped.

Stopped as in cut off; not locked up till a new army arises then demand for their freedom by holding more states to ransom!

Oh! What has gone wrong?

Nation defenseless. People unprotected.

Tear drops…I can’t think no more

 Ogbeni Paul wrote:

The Cock Crowed, The shimmers of the morning light broke the darkness…I turned and stretched,
took a deep breath and smiled. Woke up with expectations, said a prayer thanking God for the gift of a new day filled with hope.

I kissed my wife and kids goodbye knowing for sure that I would be home for dinner…

I was so sure…

But between 3:00 - 3:25 pm

Everything changed…

I now lay lifeless in a morgue with other bodies who had left home with the same expectations of returning back to family…

Who will bring us back to take away the pains we have caused our loved ones?

Will we continue to water the grounds of freedom with our blood?

Will someone speak up and expose the men behind these mess?

Will the poor masses continue to pay with their blood for a selfish politician’s ambition?

Our blood cry out…who will be courageous and speak up?

I see cowards on the social media and other news networks taking advantage of the situation to settle a political score…

Have our lives become political tools too?

Don’t do the hash-tags for me…ACT!

Do something to save this country

We are no longer here but you are…watered the grounds of liberty with our blood

Where’s next?

(Picture credit to AFP/Getty Images:

Monday, 19 May 2014

@ 30; Single and a Pariah?



Incoming Call

‘Grrrrrrrrrhhhhh,’ ‘Grrrrrrrrrrrrhhhhhhh’

Tick. Tick. Five seconds gone…



Incoming Call

‘Grrrrrrrrrhhhhh,’ ‘Grrrrrrrrrrrrhhhhhhh’

And so her phone rang for the umpteenth time, vibrating against her already tensed body that wet morning; yet another reminder of everything that keeps a record of how you are aging - time, date, month, and viola your age!

Today she is 30; the last day of the ninth month.

It was supposed to be a beautiful day. A cheerful and thankful albeit a reflective one, but all feelings are lost to brooding, no thanks to her tormentors in ‘friend’ clothing. The many reminders of her state and status of singlehood.

Her phones are purposely kept on permanent silent mode.

“Let them call till they tire,” she thought out aloud

In no mood to entertain neither calls nor visitors nor stares from her colleagues at First Central, she placed the all-important call to her supervisor and friend at exactly 6.30 a.m. on that Monday morning, in the hopes to beg for the day off after a lonely night of crying jags.
Eyes red-rimmed. Nose clogged. Her best gift today would be to face no one. She had no plans of stepping out even at the sound of the buzzer.
Dara grudgingly opened her mouth to utter her only prayer all morning, “Heaven please let Austin give me time off” as she picked up her official phone to cajole her friendboss-friendship facilitated and strengthened by her demonstration of competencies over the 2-year period at First Central. Besides, her report wasn’t so critical and there was no decision to be made at the weekly Monday Morning meeting with Ralph, the Head of Communications.

Dara called Austin’s telephone line let the phone ring. Over and over it rang, only there was no response at the other end of the line.

Frustrated and confused, unsure of how long to wait before trying to connect again, she decided to pass the time by following through on her morning ritual only this time without her morning prayer. Her silent anger at her maker simmering, unconsciously pushed to the surface by Adaobi’s comments two days before...

“Babe, are you in a relationship?” Adaobi started her questioning assuming the stance of an interrogator. She had the same excited look as always only her words didn’t hold any sweetness this time.

The topic is sore, especially now, the timing is all wrong!

“I know the question is funny but babe I just feel I need to ask o. You have concluded your certifications now and looking forward to a promotion, what is next?”… She continued without pause for an answer.

“You know you aren’t a baby and it’s not only about career. See, Toun just gave birth to a beautiful baby girl yesterday I don’t know if anyone told you”.

“Me I’m just saying my own o. I have this guy who works with one of these oil servicing firms, I know you are not materialistic but at least he will fit the part for you. He is caring and humble, career driven and ambitious like you so you guys may click just fine. I can give you his mobile number and him yours” a wide smile on her face as she lunged at her bag on the small table placed centrally on the monochrome rug.

Still Dara sat at the opposite end, clammed up thinking of the right retort to Adaobi’s poser. She looked to her chirpy friend again, whose 14 months old baby was at the moment momentarily fixated on her Samsung Galaxy S5 and the only words she could mutter were, “Thank you, I’ll find my own man”.
Her voice surprisingly strong for someone at the verge of cussing and crying. She stormed out to the kitchen angrily, looking for what to do; just anything to get her out of sight.

“Dara, haba…no vex” Ada’s voice came from behind, too close for any form of comfort.

A quick mop and a slight shake of her head to hold back the welling tears.

“I know say na me pass my boundary by asking and I didn’t mean to bring you to the verge of tears o, only that all our friends are married with one or two kids ehn. Don’t you feel awkward when we gather during festivities and everyone is with spouse and kids except you?”

“Ada…stop it” Dara’s voice took on a high-pitched tone. “Let’s drop this please and focus on something else”

She chose that moment to forcefully break out of Ada’s persistent whining about her current, somewhat shameful’ state of singlehood- according to her as the cries of the baby reached them in the kitchen.

The afternoon ended on a sad note. All hopes of a good weekend gone!

Church on Sunday was a drag, with a fervent prayer on her lips that no one would remember her 30th birth date was just a day away.

Monday Morning wasn’t better either. The calls and texts haven’t stopped pouring in since 12 a.m. No one understands why she’s not picking her calls. Text messages filled with expressions of worry. Messages filled with prayers and prayers, same prayer point for a husband and scores of children surrounding her table. It’s been repeated for years, it’s almost like a chant now.

Ritual continued.

2 glasses of water. Brisk walk thrice round her 400 square feet room followed by an emptying of bowels in a visit to the ‘white house’.

After good time expended on dillydallying, she picked up the phone again to call Austin.

Still no response. Does that mean she has to go to work today, she thought.


“Austin please pick up now. I can’t possibly face the world looking like this” she cried out in exasperation, falling headlong into her sofa...

**To be continued…**

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Patsy’s Palsy

A close fall. A near fall

Her hand to her left, at the quickening of her breath

Voice caged. Vocal cord strained

Shortness of breath. Her lungs hungry for air

She longs to be heard as she points ‘seemingly’ to the bed

The voice in her head screaming, “Please look there”

Frantic mother comes scurrying in, pushing aside the helpless sis…“baby please gesture well so I can know where”

“my eyes have scanned the corners, still no sign of your breather”

Mother takes another step in the direction of her angel’s outstretched hand…’the only good hand’

A steeper topple of the bed, down below, beneath the spring that holds the mattress, she reaches to find the artificial air enclosed in the red concealer called inhaler…

You see, Patsy’s physical condition is a bit severe

A cerebral Palsy from birth

Her pulmonary too obstructed

Aged thirteen, still her walking is impaired. Her speech snared  

Her eyes struggle to adjust to everything else

Only one good hand is left, the functional ‘tool’ that controls her power wheelchair

Lost to her are the fanfares of teenage years

The pretty dresses and the fun times at the seamstress’

A trip with daddy to Nassau Veterans

And all the giddy girly-talks and laughs

Patsy’s plays end with her good hand in the air, a chuckle here, a chuckle there, all in her motorized wheelchair

Even daddy can’t hide the wetness on his face even though he pretends like they are beads of sweat

But for Patsy’s beautiful angelic face and smile, family and friends will never regret her birth

Still an adorable child no doubt…
Writer's note- My heart goes out to every 'Patsy' around the world; to their carers and loved ones. May you ever find strength to give the required care, never faltering and the strength to be able to deliver such care lovingly.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Lost Home

We weep!

Yet again for the hundredth time

Our sorrows and pains compounded, our fears magnified

“You say home isn’t safe no more,” I heard my brother’s sombre voice as the phone line crackled back to life.

“Haven’t you heard all the news Usman” I retorted almost angrily.  Sometimes my brother can like to form outdated, alien and not of this world, never watching TV, never listening to radio!

“I doubt a day passes bro, without a mention of Nigeria’s woes on international media. In fact, it must have been mentioned to your hearing by your few friends a couple of times”…I replied to his chagrin.

“Okay, enough with the words bantering Rashy, what will you do now”?

His concerns filtered through at the reference to my pet name. Only mama ever called me by that and it was this same name that began the gentle plea 10 years ago…


In my habitual chirpy manner I entered into the kitchen, hoping to find a plate of local rice as usual reserved for me at the top of the kitchen cupboard. I found the covered food alright, only this time there were two porcelain dishes….the ones I never see until Eid al-Adha, not even Eid al-Fitri!

Mama has outdone herself this time. If this sumptuous looking dish of Tuwo shinkafa and miyan taushe is mine, then she has outdone herself.

I delved in before any rational thinking of what could have prompted this special treat.

Maybe she is showing her excitement at the news of my acceptance into the prestigious Stanford University in America. Plus we are both excited at the prospect of the reunion with my only brother after many years of estrangement.


I remember the moment Usman stormed out in the dead of the night at the heels of my father’s vicious abuse.

“You useless shameless son of shaytan”. “I have never heard complaints about your younger brother in this kauye, only you! You steal, you fail in school, you smoke, and you rape all the girls in town”. “No son of mine will ever soil my name, no one!” disrepute

And that was how we lost our fourth family member. 

Mama and I stood cowering and crying in the corner. Usman was only a boy, just turned 18. Where would he go????

We never heard from him again. Until 10 years ago, almost 15years after Usman stormed out of the house that dark, starless night. Papa had long passed on, (God rest his soul). My undergraduate education had been completed and I already initiated a process to pursue my post graduate studies in Stanford University before a good neighbor mentioned to us that his first daughter (Halimat) living in Palo Alto had spotted my brother several times on her street.