Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Through the Maze

My first attempt at Flash Fiction. I submitted this entry to my Creative Writing Group for a challenge our coach initiated. Enjoy...


Mother died last night.

Even before I opened the email, I knew what it was going to say. The notification icon had indicated the sender was Jessy Otubo, my sister. Blank subject bar, yet I knew.
My sister is younger than me by good 17 years. Striking resemblance as we both take after mother, but we don’t talk. Neither do I talk to our mother. I see them both on Social Media and scroll past. The names are still the same, so is mine – Dilim Otubo.
I wonder why Jessy believes I’ll ever respond to her mails. This is about the 120th from her since we became estranged three years ago. Always short - such as ‘hello,’ ‘where are you?’ ‘I got my A’levels,’ ‘You missed my big birthday bash at 18,’ - kind of mails. Mother also made efforts to call but I never budged. Now she’s gone.

I stare at the unplastered walls of my tiny room for a while, unsure if to call Baba and share the good news.

I first met Baba two months ago when my bosom friend Jiga took me out in search of a solution to my lingering sickness, joblessness and apparent ill-luck. It was in a small town, faraway in Ogbomoso, Oyo State.
We had arrived in the dead of the night to avoid being recognized as Jiga is a top politician and in fact, a sitting member of the National Assembly for my Senatorial District.
“Give me your hand,” Baba commanded reaching for my right hand, “àtẹ́lẹwọ́ ẹni kì í tan ni'jẹ, the palms do not deceive my friend,” he droned and chanted some incantations.
“I see plenty obstacles before you. Dark clouds everywhere. Thick dark clouds”. He looked into my eyes, gave an ominous frown then repeated ‘dark’ and wrinkled his nose further for effect. “You see my son, there is a big secret your biological mother is keeping from you and your immediate family. Hmm…she must confess or you will forever and ever be ruined! She has to bare it all before you can enjoy any form of health and happiness”.
“I already know that secret Baba,” I replied with a bit of unease. “Why am I the one suffering for it?”
“You do? But how?”
“I stumbled on some information in her diary and pieced the details together”. I paused, images of that incident flashing through my head. “I recall waking up one night and finding my knickers and bedsheet soiled. It seemed strange and even stranger because my mother was next to me semi-naked, but I dismissed it because we were inseparable at the time and I had grown used to seeing her parade the house naked as a little boy, into my teenage years”.
“My sister is my daughter,” I finished narrating.
Jiga, shocked at my revelation flew to the edge of the couch, hands on head.

“You see, the part unclear to you is that your mother joined a cult to seek enormous wealth and her task was to sleep with you. No matter how potent a charm is, it has its negative effects. Your life has been at risk since then”.
“You will wallow in sickness till you die. Either that or she confesses”.

After our consultation with Baba, Jiga insisted that I visit mother, more like a confrontation, targeting when Jessy would be away from home. I had planned a surprise visit for Monday, three weeks after the trip to Ogbomosho but unfortunately my frail health failed me.
I eventually found an appropriate time and went in unannounced to her big mansion.

“I secretly hoped for this day to come Dilim,” mother said to me from her inner room, her legs still lean and straight after all these years, rested royally on her dresser. Our eyes connected sharply and held for seconds longer than I could take. She stood up, walked towards me and suddenly stopped few metres away from me.
“Now you must know Jessy is yours for you to have become so withdrawn and cold. I always wondered how you figured that out but believe me, that night was a mistake. I swear to you I had too many drinks to think coherently”.

“Mother why are you swearing to what is naught? I know everything and I mean E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G!” I flung a pillow in her direction. “The mansion. The source of the wealth. The cult. Yes, the cult. The stupid cult you sacrificed the health and sanity of your son for. The stupid cult you used to salvage your greedy ambition. How could you even for a second agree to such abominable, unthinkable act? I loved you, mother,” my voice caught, “You were my world and pride. I boasted to my friends at school about my strong single mother. A…ab...about how you toiled daily”. I ended up leaving without getting her to confess but I left some pills by her dresser.

She died the next day. 

Thursday, 5 October 2017


Are you familiar with the story of Lot's wife? Remember it? When God wanted to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah for its many sins, He heeded Abraham's plea and allowed Abraham’s nephew, Lot and his family to escape but with a strict warning to them NOT TO LOOK BACK. Lot’s wife looked back however and was instantly turned into a pillar of salt :-( 

Quite chilling outcome huh? 

June 2, 2017

I wish my instructor had sounded this exact warning to my hearing during my driving lessons. Barely a week after I brazed Lagos roads I made a trip to Sango Otta with my colleague. We had gone to the factory to carry out some tincture preparations. Drove to work in my usual fashion, going through service lane half the way then the almighty Ikorodu road. Anyway, everything was fine till we had to go to Otta. Of course, I could not drive long distance so we requested to be chauffeured by one of the company drivers. The journey to Otta can be likened to a journey to Jericho - not like I've ever been there but you get my drift...faaaar and that road is plagued with too many manholes (just like most part of Lagos except for the Banana Islands and ilks). We delved into work as soon as we reached the factory because my colleague like me, was eager to return to civilization but we never envisaged the task would take up so much time.Several glitches along the way but thankfully, we were done by 4.

The drive back was pretty smooth and fast and we were in Ikeja axis by 6pm.

"UK I think I'll come down at this bus stop before you guys make a detour to Computer Village. It's easier from here to Maryland then home," I said suddenly

" friend let's get to the office now, it's just 6'O Clock you can still make it home in good time".

"Nah. Let me just come down here," I repeated 

Meanwhile in my head, I kept calculating how much longer it would take to get to Kudirat Abiola from where we were to making a U-Turn into the office building, parking the car and me having to drive out again. Guaranteed that would take about 30 minutes pushing the time to 6.30ish. I would need about another 40 minutes to get home, further pushing it into the nights. No way! I wasn't having any of those!!

"Babe, let me come down abeg. I'll pick my car tomorrow".

"But no work tomorrow now, how you wan do am?"

"I know na. Will be there to pick up in the morning. I'd rather spend extra time to pick up in broad daylight than risk driving at night". I finished without batting an eyelid.

 They let me off, not without a laugh though and I got home a few minutes before 7pm - the sky still quite clear. Oh well, I wasn't ready to take the risk...

August 29, 2017

Since I started driving, my ideal closing hour had changed to 5pm and I always aim to leave at that time or at the latest, 5.45pm but you know how these things work. Your plans just develop wings and turn out differently, of their own volition. 

One of such unpredictable days, I had gone out of office again - this time with my HOD to hold a site meeting in preparation for a product launch. We had gone to Lekki a little past midday with hopes to breeze through meeting in 30 minutes then return. We got lucky and finished off in no time. Headed back to the mainland and got stuck in Ikeja axis in an annoying sent-from-the-pit-of-ajangbadi traffic. The office was only some 2km away but we could not move. Too shy to voice my driving challenges, I sat through the wait with my boss and prayed for a quick intervention. She instructed her driver to take another route but we still ended up in the office late. 

I went in to my car, packed my stuff. Locked the doors. Checked to be sure they were locked. Double checked. Called Uber and had a heavy meal(cold lunch) while I waited for my ride to arrive... 

Spot the first and only female Uber driver till date. 

What an irony!

You see? Even life has a way of taking a swipe at us! Why did my request have to produce a female driver? She wasn't even driving a small vehicle but Honda Jeep and she drove excellently.

September 27,2017

Shortly after life mocked me to my face with an expert day/night female driver, I worked late into the night again but this time around, I chose to drive home :-)

No jumping buses. No taking buses halfway then switching to yellow taxis. No Uber. No driver. No driving companion. Just me (super woman).

I remember praying and cursing in one breadth. Every time a fellow road user flashed his headlights I cursed. They never told me I couldn't see through the mirrors. I guess this is the golden rule for night drivers; #donotlookback particularly for newbies like me. 

Two things happened that night:

Took me a while to figure out how to turn off
Blinding lights
P.S I only take pictures in traffic 
I didn't know how to use the headlights so I kept calling DH for guide and emotional support.

Please don't ask me how this happened...but yeah, only my window and side-view mirror took the bashing. I didn't even stop to talk stories. Drove off like nothing happened.

P.S: Dialogue has been paraphrased to suit this story but I did my best to capture the essence of what was said.

Till my next #LearnerSeries XoXo

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

LS1 - On Half Tank

Every morning as soon as I hit the road I close my eyes briefly to pray. A much specific, different kind of prayer from the morning 4 a.m./5-ish general prayer. This time I cast and bind reckless okada 'motorcycle' riders and the unavoidable danfo 'yellow' bus drivers who are and will remain the king of Lagos roads, regardless of what Governor Ambode does.

In fact I have 3 critical spots where my heartsong and whisper to Baba God is loudest. Make that 6. First would be CLIMBING the Ojuelegba bridge with steady hands. Second would be MAINTAINING a single parallel lane on the entire stretch of that bridge. Third would be CLIMBING the Kalakuta bridge otherwise known as Mosholashi bridge; you know that one connecting Fadeyi bus stop. And fourth would be what? You guessed right! MAINTAINING a single parallel lane on that bridge, without wavering at the sight and sound of all cars, trucks and tankers (As a driver and as a 'drivee' passenger, my fear for tankers, trucks - all huge vehicles is extreme). Fifth critical prayer spot would be that Ikeja computer village bridge. Goodness me! The white and black, zebra-like pattern on the culvert makes me dizzy and lose focus. I almost rammed into it on a return drive from the office…

Let me hold the last tightly to my chest before you figure out my commute to work J

Anyway so I set out this morning ready to begin my ritual. Normally I would drive through service lane once I burst out from Stadium and link the Ojuelegba bridge after Barracks because I don’t have enough liver to join the express drivers descending Stadium bridge. Today was no different except for one major glitch, TRAFFIC!!! I suppose it is inevitable to live in Lagos and not be held still in one. That Barracks area in particular has gained some notoriety in press. It almost always makes headline with news of one tanker toppling over or something as strange and depressing.

This morning I faced that dread on half tank! AC off because I had no idea how long it was going to take to ease. Windows all up because of fear of being attacked and smartly robbed, yes I have heard it happen in broad daylight. I put my mind to work as we all waited. I thought of all the things my instructor taught me about defensive driving. Could I apply any? Imagine being sandwiched between a long truck and a BRT bus, not knowing which lane to fall into. No shakara on Lagos road mehn. No ‘headstronging’ anywhere. Using your trafficator light won’t cut it for you. You have to look meekly into their eyes - that always paves way. Eyeball to eyeball ‘lo le se’ (only direct eye contact can do it). I wound my glass down, just a bit and begged oga truck driver to let me take position in front of him. A mistake? With every small movement I would feel the truck drag behind me and shake the very core of the ground we drove on. Everything was vibrating. The bridge. My car. My legs. Any small move, tanker will follow. I was tempted to wave at oga tanker driver to keep his distance as we neared a slope. I mean it wasn’t exactly gridlock but switching lanes was impossible! At that moment when oga tanker climbed the slope in preparation to descend, I unhooked my seat belt, unlocked the doors and remained alert…well you can imagine why.

The first breather I got, I switched lanes straight up.

After wasting precious time and battling emotions in traffic(conflicting emotions like if I should park somewhere and jump bus to work or if I should randomly pick up someone who could drive at the bus stop), my DH has agreed and promised to show me an alternate route so wisdom will be profitable to direct me next time.

Till my next #LearnerSeries XoXo