Monday, December 1, 2014

Seven Years and Counting!

Here's  a picture of the first day we met. I'm looking at it and laughing at how 'scrawny' you looked then. And yeah, I was still my good old elegant self, thank you very much!
That was 11 years ago.
The first day we met!
The last time I did a post on our anniversary, we'd only been married 2 years. Back then we were still basking in the freshness of our union. We still had sparkles in our eyes, blissfully oblivious of the steep curves that lay ahead of us.
So young and in love!
In this second picture, you had recently proposed to me and anyone who saw us could immediately tell we were in love. See how our eyes shone. We were so happy, so hopeful for a beautiful future together.

The day we made our vows...
Then came the day of the 'Big Leap'. 1st December, 2007.
I have our wedding song on repeat in my head even as I write this now - Luther Vandross' "Here and Now". Lovely song.
We made promises to each other on that day and God has helped us keep them so far.
The laughter on my face that day has not left my face, it has instead slipped into my heart and remained there ever since.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Mystery of the Visiting Bats(II)

 The bats had stopped visiting our house for quite a while. But they had left a certain impression in my mind. I found myself subconsciously looking around in search of any flying 'thing' once I entered the living room or opened the door to our bedroom. I would then chide myself for being so silly. Didn't I know that people usually found what they were looking for? If I entered living spaces, looking for bats, chances are, I would find one!

Thank goodness I never found one. At least not in the way I had imagined I would.  Besides, I felt quite safe knowing that my husband would always be there to deal with the creatures should they decide to pay us another visit.

Somewhere in mind, a voice kept taunting me, asking me what I would do when hubby had to leave town for business. I would mute the voice in my head. Let's get to that bridge first and then we'll cross it.

Sure enough, the day finally came. Hubby had to make a quick trip to PH for a meeting. He would be back the next day. Just one day. Surely I could survive the night alone for just one day?

I got home early from work and since it was a Friday, I settled myself into the couch, armed with a large pack of Lays potato chips, to watch movies till well past midnight. Around 1:30am, exhausted and sleepy, I checked, again, that the doors were locked and switched off the generator. I was tempted to leave it on through the night just for the comfort of having the lights on but I didn't. What was wrong with me anyway? Suddenly scared of the dark? Besides, PHCN might restore power during the night so why burn fuel unnecessarily?

I said a quick prayer as I buried myself under the duvet. Sleep came quickly.

Around 2:30am, barely one hour into my precious sleep (I know the time because my phone sleeps next to my head), my eyes popped open. I felt the hair on my neck begin to rise. Something or someone was in the room with me but I couldn't see it. My fear was palpable. The darkness was thick except for the low iridescent light from my mobile phone screen. My heart began to beat really fast and that was when I heard it. The unmistakable flapping of wings. I froze. It was as though something had pinned me down in bed. It was unbelievable. A bat was flying around in my room!! The air surrounding my face was suddenly disturbed. I could tell that the bat had just whizzed past my head. That was when I regained use of my limbs and tumbled out of bed heading straight for the door.

I was breathing real hard as I felt my way to the living room. Was this some cruel joke of some sort? How come a bat was flying around in our bedroom at 2:30am in the morning? How did the bat choose this particular night? This one night when hubby was away? We had had several months of respite from these visits and suddenly they make their appearance again? No, this has gone way past coincidence. Way past!
I knew what I would do though. I would simply pass the night in the living room and by morning, I and the bat would resolve our differences. I nodded to myself that it was a good plan.

And so I curled up on the couch and tried to sleep. But just then I heard the familiar flapping of wings again. My eyes shot open but I could not see anything in the darkness. The hair on my neck was at attention and I felt blood rush to my head.

I jumped off the couch and dashed across the room to grab the re-chargeable torch-light which usually hung on the wall opposite the couch, hitting my shin on the coffee table as I went. I ignored the pain and switched on the torch. I could not believe my eyes. There was indeed a bat flying around in the living room!

No. Way. No. Way. No. Way. I kept repeating, over and over and over again as I marched towards the back door to switch on the generator. The fear was suddenly gone and in its place was anger rising within me along with the adrenaline being released into my blood stream. Without paying attention to the bat, I went into the kitchen to grab a broom, dust pan and Mortein Insecticide. These were my weapons of 'warfare' but just before I headed back out into the living room, I paused as this scripture came to me -"The weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds..." II Corinthians 10:4.

I dropped my weapons and began to pray. I declared God's Word concerning my life, commanding the works of the enemy to be destroyed. Armed with faith, I picked up my other 'instruments' and practically charged at the bat. Swiping my broom at it as it darted here and there. After what seemed like a long time but which in fact was only a couple of minutes, the bat came down. I rushed to it and didn't wait to see if it was dead or merely stunned before I proceeded to slap it again and again with my broom. Oh, how I smashed that little bat! Convinced that there was no way the squashed bat could ever come back to life, I swept it onto my dustpan and threw it outside.

One down, One to go.
As I marched to to the bedroom, bolstered by my first conquest, it occurred to me that two bats had never visited our house at the same time before. It was as though this particular visit was supposed to accomplish something. Something quite sinister indeed. But the devil is a liar!

I threw open the bedroom door expecting the bat to charge at me since I had just killed it's 'sister' or 'brother' for that matter. But there was no bat flying around. I flustered the drapes just in case it was hiding behind them but it was not. I checked under the bed, behind the reading table, but there was nothing. It was as though the bat had simply disappeared.

I felt rather disappointed. With all that adrenaline in my bloodstream, I was spoiling for a fight! Or...wasn't there a second bat? I remembered that I hadn't actually seen this bat but the flapping of wings I heard was real. Or...maybe as I rushed out of the room, the bat followed me as well? And so maybe the bat I killed in the living room was the same one I had heard in the bedroom just before? Questions, questions.

I flopped into bed and became enveloped by a sudden feeling of exhaustion. What a night!!

Later that day, as I drove hubby home from the airport, he had this incredulous look on his face as I recounted the details of my 'adventure' with the bats. At the end of my tale, I could tell he was impressed at how I handled the situation. My usual response to distressing situations would be to call him, expecting him to do something, not minding the distance between us at that material moment. I had indeed come of age!

As we prepared for bed that night I followed my husband's gaze as he stared intently at something on the floor, partially covered by the the bedroom drapes. The puzzled look on his face caused me to approach the object with caution. It was he who bent down to take a closer look and he started smiling. "I think we have found that second bat after all". What?

Aha, it was indeed a bat. Strange thing is, it was dead!

Well, as far as I am concerned, that's divine intervention right there. And the bats haven't visited again since.

PS: One of our neighbours upstairs confided in us that bats had been visiting his place for quite a while. He was relieved to hear that they'd visited our place too. Even though there were unvoiced concerns of a superstitious nature, we got the landlord to organise a fumigation exercise. Interestingly the fumigation company discovered a colony of bats living in our roof. Does that solve the mystery then? I wonder.

Call me superstitious, discount the bat visits as 'normal' for a house with resident bats, but this one thing I do know - bats won't be visiting our house, ever again!
 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Mystery of The Visiting Bats (1)

I am not a very superstitious person and my first reaction to most issues or events, is to take them at face value.

If the leaves on the tree in the center of Baba Ramota's compound for instance, all turn brown overnight, in the middle of the rainy season, I am more likely to assume that the tree was suddenly infected by some tree disease than to suspect any Juju foul play. Not even after hearing, through the grape-vine, that Baba Ramota's sudden wealth came about after Mama Ramota, his wife's death.

My generally non-superstitious outlook was challenged recently.


In many parts of the world, Nigeria inclusive, most people associate bats with sorcery, witchcraft and general evil. The reason isn't far fetched - Michrochiropteria (Insectivorous bats), the kind mostly found in Nigeria have small eyes, sharp pointed teeth, strangely-shaped ears and bizarre nose structures. Frightening description isn't it?

Let's go back several months to the first time we had a bat incident.

It was around 8:30pm, my sister and I were watching TV in the living room when she suddenly screamed in fright. I must have dozed off half-way through the movie we'd been watching but her scream had me scrambling to my feet.

I didn't need to ask what the matter was. There was a bird flying over our heads and with the way it was darting here and there, occasionally swooping low, we instinctively knew it was a bat!!
I joined in the scream, running around the room in confusion, imagining the bat chasing me as I went.

The front door burst open and my Father-in-law dashed in from the balcony where he'd been lounging. My sister had run into the kitchen and locked herself in there but I was behind the drapes which separated the living room from the central lobby, peering out at the creature that had taken over our living room.

Quickly, F-I-L took one throw-pillow from the couch and with a few swipes, the bat was on the ground.

I yelled to my sister that it was okay to come out and together, we stared at the bird on the ground, not much larger than a mouse but which had appeared a lot larger as it flew over our heads earlier. F-I-L picked it up with a piece of cloth and took it outside.

The scenario I just described was repeated two more times before the night was over. No sooner had we settled back to watch TV than my sister screamed again. Another bat. And yet another one 30 minutes later! F-I-L was on hand to 'save' us from the bats but after the third time, I really began to wonder. Was there a colony of bats that just moved to our area? Did we by any chance leave a door or window open?

Later that evening, after I had given hubby the 'gory' details of our clash with three bats, we both took our time to check the windows and doors, stuffing pieces of old newspaper into the small spaces between the sliding windows and the base of the doors. We had just finished and were about to turn in for the night when F-I-L whom we thought had snoozed off on the couch, beckoned on us.

"Er...I don't want you two to begin thinking in another line..." he trailed off as we gave him puzzled looks. And then he continued "...Er..you know, don't start thinking that maybe...maybe somebody sent something to you...just clear your mind..."

It was his turn turn to look puzzled as we laughed incredulously and bade him good night. We were still chuckling to ourselves as we snuggled close....Somebody? Send something to us? Like juju? Too funny.

Well, we weren't laughing any more two weeks later.

F-I-L had left our house in a huff. The purpose of his visit had been to attend a meeting to sort out a family dispute. There was no resolution and he accused us of siding with the 'enemy'. It's a long story which I am not at liberty to share here.

Early one morning, 2 weeks after F-I-L's departure, the bedside alarm went off. It was around 4:30 am, hubby stood up to switch on the lights so we could have our devotion. The next thing I knew, he let out a sudden expletive and ducked. I immediately became wide awake. There was a bat flying around in our room!! I kicked off the comforter, scrambled out of bed and headed straight for the door crouching as I ran. Hubby was the man of the house so forgive me if I ran and left him to deal with the situation alone.

I stood outside our room and pressed my ear to the door. I could hear him moving about in there with the occasional thud and slapping sounds. In about 3 minutes everything became quiet. I opened the door a crack and peered inside trying to decide if it was okay to go in. Hubby assured me it was all right as he pointed towards his reading table. The plastic waste bin was turned over. He said the bat was in there but he wasn't sure if he had killed it or just merely stunned it. We carried on with our morning routine, all the while aware that there was a bat in there with us - dead or alive. By the time we were ready to leave the house, hubby slowly lifted the waste basket. The bat was dead. I couldn't help noticing again just how tiny it was. He picked it up and took it outside.

What concerned me the most was the thought that the bat had been inside the room with us as we slept. For how long had it been there? What if it had bitten us? And for that matter, HOW did the thing gain entrance into our room? The AC was on all night and so the windows were all shut. We had stuffed pieces of newspaper into every little space that could have served as an entry point. Besides we had installed heavy drapes to keep out the sun as much as possible. We just could not explain it!

The bats visited us five more times after that over a period of 4 months. One more time in our bedroom - we got home one evening and there it was flying around. One time in the central lobby - this was the only time we could attribute the visit to an open window. And three more times in the living room. All these times, hubby was there to 'deal' with the situation. I was the one who always ran to hide, shrieking as I went and somewhere in the recesses of my mind, something kept asking me the question, "what will you do when the bats come visiting and hubby's not there to save you?" That thought was always squashed even before it completely formed. "Tufiakwa!" I would reply. "God forbid bad thing!"

Within those four months, one of my S-I-Ls called to say she'd been having strange dreams. Maybe I should mention here that F-I-L also considers her to be siding with the 'enemy' in the family dispute. She also developed a rash that rapidly spread over her body. The dermatologists couldn't do much and so she had gone to see her pastor who told her it was a spiritual problem. She commenced a prayer regimen and the rashes disappeared as rapidly as they had appeared.

When she heard about the bats, she became convinced that the same person who sent her the rashes, was sending the bats to our house. We could easily deduce where she was headed with that line of thought and we waved her off. We didn't believe in that sort of thing but we took the time to pray all the same. Rebuking the enemy and declaring our home unfit for strange visits from strange creatures.

Just like that, the bat visits stopped. Until very recently...when the opportunity to face my fears and put the issue of the bats to rest once and for all. And we did solve the mystery. Find out how in Part II!


    

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

ANGELS AMONGST US

I wouldn't consider myself an 'expert' driver, having been driving for a mere 6years but I do know enough to pay attention to my dashboard. For instance, if the road is free and I am cruising on the express way, a cursory glance at my dashboard will show me that I am going too fast. 100km/hr tops and no more.

One day, not too long ago, after a particularly long day at work, I threw my stuff in the car and  turned the ignition. I allowed the engine to idle a bit when I noticed something strange on my dashboard. Apart from the regular indicators that come on just before I buckle myself in and begin the long drive home - the seat belt, open door and hand brake indicators -  the battery indicator also came on. Strange.

I popped the bonnet open to check that the battery terminals were not somehow dislodged. They weren't. Shrugging it off, I convinced myself that it was probably nothing. Indeed, the indicators went off after a few minutes' drive. What a relief. Or so I thought.

The next day on our way to work, on came the indicators again. This time, the hand-brake and battery indicators won't go off. That was the red flag. During lunch time, I took the car to an auto shop for a quick check and the 'mechanic' assured me that all was well. To 'prove' him right, the indicators stayed off.

Fast forward to 7:30pm, 2 hours past the normal closing time - no thanks to our 'Oga at the top' who needed a report completed and sent to Abuja 'immediately'. A colleague of mine joined me and we were chattering away in the car as we eased into the Third Mainland Bridge traffic.
Traffic must have been at it's worst that night because by 8:30pm, UNILAG wasn't even in sight! I had noticed a little loss of power as I stepped on the accelerator, the sound from the radio fluctuated and my headlights were rather dim. I did not want to raise any alarm, after all the car was still moving. Still moving, that is, until it wasn't!

My dashboard suddenly came alive. Every single indicator came on and my throttle won't work. My heart missed a bit and I turned to my colleague, "Bimpe, the car has stopped". She smiled and had that look on her face as if to say "Enkay please, stop playing". I turned the ignition again and again and heard that dreaded 'click, click' that meant the car batteries were totally flat. The alternator had finally packed up. In a show of bravado, I popped the bonnet again and went to check the batteries even though I knew there was no help for it. We were on the second lane from the speed lane and already the cars behind us were beginning to maneuver  their way out, several of them honking as they went. I looked under the bonnet for several seconds before I slammed it shut. Tears were threatening....what to do, what to do.....get the C-Caution out? Call my husband? Call LASTMA? Or the Lagos State Emergency Numbers 767/112?

Bimpe busied herself with transferring all our stuff - handbags, laptops etc into the boot of the car. I remember thinking it didn't make much of a difference because SUV boots are just like an extension of the car interior; anyone looking to rob us will have a clear view of our 'boot'. Sounds crazy I know but watching her 'work' made me want to laugh and cry at the same time.

Most of the cars drove by without much more than an irritating glance. Obviously we were worsening an already bad traffic situation. Others paused only long enough to stare pitifully at us. I had just finished placing a call to the Hubs and he gave me some hope about arranging for a tow truck but I was skeptical about waiting till it arrived.



Just then, a Hilux Truck pulled up beside me and the driver, a good looking, bespectacled young man, ever so courteously asked me "Madam, what seems to be the problem?"
"Ah" I sighed, "The batteries are flat because the alternator is no longer charging them...." I trailed off.
He cocked his head and thought for a bit before driving off.
"Aaarrgh!" I thought to myself, the guy really looked like he was going to help!

I busied myself with getting the C-Caution sign out when I heard  a male voice behind me say "Madam, we really need to push this car off the road". I looked up and there was the driver of the Hilux stretching his hand to take the car keys from me. Let's call him Mr. Spectacles.

With his help, we were able to push the car off to the side of the road so it was less of an obstruction. Mr. Spectacles thought he had a tow rope so he could at least help tow us out of there but he didn't. He offered to give us a ride to the police post further down the bridge since we might be targets to hoodlums lurking around in the shadows. Just then, another truck, much larger than the Hilux, pulled up beside us - a rickety but sturdy truck apparently used to ferry construction materials to and fro building sites. "Madam, Make I help you?!" the driver yelled at me. In less than 5 minutes, we had struck a deal. He would tow the car to the end of the bridge and I would pay him for the service.

Mr Spectacle stayed until the car was securely attached to the truck. We were about to pull away when it suddenly occurred to me that I had neither asked for his name nor his number. He reeled out his number as I felt the first jolt of the car; Mr Makeshift Tow-Truck was eager to be on his way. I told him my name and assured him that my family would call to express our thanks. He laughed  and waved good bye. I could not wave back as another jolt had me gripping the steering wheel like my life depended on it.

I was just grateful to get to the end of the bridge in one piece. Mr Makeshift drove like a maniac, zig-zagging between cars. Bimpe stuck her hand out the window the entire time flagging other cars and frantically warning them that this maniac was on a roll.

At the end of the bridge, I was relieved to have Hubby take over. I was spent!

We called Mr Spectacle the next day to say Thank You and would you believe it? He worked in the same Company as my Brother-in-Law. As a matter of fact, he was at their wedding a few years ago! What a small, small world indeed.

I believe he was an Angel sent to help us and I am so deeply grateful that he did. There's no telling what would have happened if we'd been left there without help; hoodlums waiting in the shadows ready to take advantage of us.

I plan to buy, not one but two tow ropes just so I can give one away to help anyone else who may be stranded and in need of help. If there had been a tow rope in either of our cars, Mr Spectacles would have towed us to safety and Mr Makeshift's services would not have been needed.

Who knows, I just might be that Angel someone needs.
 
 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

What Makes a Day Special?

It was my birthday yesterday.

In retrospect, it was in sharp contrast with that of last year when I had made grand plans of joining my husband in SA where he was to attend a conference.
Even though we'd sent in our visa applications around the same time, we had to send them in separately - the attendees to the conference had made a group application. Even at that, I was quite confident and so I booked a seat on the same flight as he.

A week to our travel date -
 10 days to my birthday, he got his passport back, visa granted. I waited and waited for mine but it didn't come. I cried as I dropped him off at the airport; there went all my birthday plans. The way I cried, you would think someone died.

It wasn't until a friend literally slapped me out of my daze: "so you haven't heard from the embassy and you won't go and find out why?" - that I gathered myself together. It really hadn't occurred to me that I could contact the Embassy directly. I had only besieged the NVS center and each time, I had received the same response, "Madam, when we get your passport, we will contact you".

It was a day to my birthday and I was determined to speak to someone at the Embassy. They had turned me back at the gate of the Embassy but I would not be deterred. I searched online and found several phone numbers but they were either wrong numbers or the Embassy people just weren't taking any calls that day.
Minute after minute, hour after hour, I dialled and redialled those numbers until it became mindless repetition. Suddenly after a very long time someone picked! I told the woman my story and without much ado, she said, "Check the NVS center tomorrow".
I thought I didn't hear her right but then she said it again.

My birthday went by rather fleetingly as I dashed from the NVS center where I went to pick up my passport, to the airport to have my ticket changed, back home to throw my stuff into a suitcase (I apparently didn't have much faith in the Embassy-woman's assurance or I'd have ghad my suitcase packed the night before) and back to the airport to catch my 9pm flight.

I spent my birthday night alone with an aircraft pillow and blanket for company but at least I was on my way to be with my prince.


This year was different. There was no rush. No grand plans. Just the decision to be at peace with myself and to do the thingss that make me happy.

And so, I set out to give myself a treat. I spent a good part of the day at the spa getting a massage, facials and all whatnot. And then there was the photo shoot at a friend's Studio. I laughed and laughed as he allowed me goof around while he just clicked away.

My day was wrapped up nicely as hubby and I sipped on Irish Cream in tall glasses, reminiscing.

So, my question again. What makes a day special?

For me, a day is as special as we decide it is. It's not so much what we do as how we feel about what we do.

Yesterday was very special not only because it was my birthday but also because in my heart I decided that no matter what happened I deserved to be happy and I carried that special feeling everywhere with me.

Everyday can be as special as we want it to be and birthdays are a good reason to feel special.

I am deeply grateful to God for another year and I re-dedicate my life to serve God and humanity.

So help me God.