Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Lost in America

The day started rather normally. No fireworks. Nothing out of the ordinary.
I was running late, as usual and found myself tapping my right foot impatiently while the bus conductor 'shadowed' his passengers, cracking silly jokes at the expense of other passers-by.
The bus was taking too long to get filled and I could already see that traffic was beginning to build. It took a full 45 minutes before the bus finally pulled out of the motor park.

A woman with her fussy baby sat next to me on one side and a young man on the other who didn't have the decency of wearing a full shirt. He was wearing a sleeveless vest exposing his hairy arm-pits from which wafted a not so pleasant smell. Two weeks' worth of unwashed sweat I imagined. I looked down at his feet, they were tucked into a pair of well worn rubber slippers, dusty and smudged with a black greasy substance, might have been used engine oil. A cursory glance at his pants told a similar story. I concluded that the guy was a roadside mechanic off to work for the day.
I remember thinking, "Why in heaven's name would someone leave their house without taking a bath?"

I scooted as close as possible to the woman with the fussy and bawling child. The crying child and seemingly helpless mother were a better option compared to breathing in the dirtiness of the mechanic.

The bus was rickety, no surprise there but to add insult to injury, the fumes from the exhaust filled the entire bus! It wasn't so thick that it would kill us all but I just knew that I would get off that bus smelling of gasoline and carbon monoxide. Darn! I was beginning to get into a foul mood. Crappy danfo buses!

Halfway through the one hour trip to Lagos Island my phone rang. I usually didn't take calls while riding in a danfo bus. The passengers were usually so tightly packed that attempting to rummage through my bag to find my phone was not worth the effort. Also, since the danfo buses were so old and rickety, the engine as it labored along made so much noise that anyone who wanted to take a call would have to raise their voice. The entire conversation would the shared
by all the passengers, willing participants or not.

At the fifth ring, I knew it was probably a call I had to take.

After I pressed the 'end' button on my mobile phone, I could have hugged the mechanic, dirty or not! I was so excited! My smile was very wide and I just wanted to nudge the baby mama with a wink, like you would your best friend and ask mischieviously "guess what news I just got?". I didn't mind the fumes anymore, heck the exhaust pipe could have been re-routed into the bus for all I cared! I had just been nominated as part of the team of engineers that were to travel to America to work on a project! Whoopie!! Enkay was coming to America!

That flight in December several years ago was the longest flight I'd ever been on in my entire life. And that's no exaggeration! I slept through out the first leg of the flight to Paris and by the time we landed at Charles de Gaulle, it was to a beautiful crisp morning. We waited 6 hours to catch the connecting flight to Houston and we were in the air for 10 long hours! The funny thing is that the sun refused to go down. I couldn't sleep and my body was confused. By the time we
landed at the George Bush IAH, it was 5pm there but my wristwatch said it was 12 midnight! That was the first of many adjustments I had to learn to make.

I shall dedicate a separate post to my impressions of America.

Being the only lady on the team meant that I had to spend twice as much as the other guys on accommodation. They paired up and split their costs in two.
At the end of the first month, I had spent close to a thousand dollars staying in an extended stay hotel and I really needed to find something else a lot cheaper.

Help came in the form of a colleague at the office - Isabel.

Isabel* and her husband Steve** worked at the same company (the same one at which I went to work) but in different capacities and on different projects. Isabel had come to Nigeria a few months earlier to help the Nigerian team straighten out a few issues. That was the first time we met and we'd become quite good friends. She had offered me a room in their home when we first arrived but I had politely turned it down not wanting to seem too eager to take advantage of
a nice American lady. After the first month however, when she made the offer again, I jumped at it!

That was how I came to live with this awesome couple who helped give me a much more interesting and rounded view of that part of America.

One day, Isabel took me to a chocolate & ice cream shop where every single thing was home made. Everything displayed in the shop was edible and I'd never before seen such a large collection of chocolates and ice cream. Chocolates were formed into all manner of shapes and stuff. Chocolate dolls and toy men, pens, doll houses, cups, hearts....just about anything!

We tasted a few of the stuff they had and decided to buy some of the rarer flavors of their ice cream. I don't quite remember why but I didn't eat my Ice cream that evening.
I kept it in the fridge with the intention of probably taking it to the office the next day. Isabel dug into hers however as she settled in to watch some late night show. I remember her waving her reply to me with that spoon in her hand as I bade her goodnight on my way to my room.

Around 2.30am, I heard a knock on my door. I remember the time because the alarm clock was positioned in such a way that once I opened my eyes, I would see it and the luminous digits meant I could tell the time even in the dark.

It was Steve. The look on his face was so somber as he leaned into the room while holding on to the door jamb that I immediately knew something was up.

"Enkay, sorry to bother you. Isabel has been really sick all night, her blood pressure is dangerously low"

I had already climbed down from the bed and I was using my feet to search for my slippers without taking my eyes off Steve as he continued to speak.

"I've called 911 and there's an ambulance on the way. I just wanted to let you know so that you wouldn't be alarmed if you saw the lights flashing outside the house."

He didn't want me to be alarmed? I was already alarmed! Isabel had been sick? I had already found my slippers and slipped my feet into them. I was at the door even before Steve completed his statement. I had to go be with Isabel.

To my utter amazement, I hadn't been with Isabel but three minutes before the the ambulance arrived, blue and red lights flashing everywhere. So it was true what we watched in movies? Call 911 and they'll be there in a jiffy? I hardly had time to digest this as the paramedics came in and went to work on Isabel straight away. She was loaded onto a stretcher and taken away to the hospital. Steve went with them.

For the first time I was all alone in the house and I had no idea how I was going to get to work that morning.

Another testimony to a system that worked, I called the Metro and got clear directions on what bus to take and what bus-stops to get off at and miraculously, I made it to the office all on my own!

I guess I felt rather confident of my abilities to navigate my way around town so I ordered for some stuff online (again, I was amazed at how easy it was to buy stuff and spend your money at the click of a button!) and applied to go pick it up at the nearest store.
How was I to know that the nearest store was several bus rides away and in a part of town I knew absolutely nothing about?

That was the beginning of my problems that day. I should have just 'jejely' gone back home to await news about Isabel's status. Uh-uh, I had to go on this 'exciting' adventure!

I got the directions from Metro as usual and even left the office a bit early to give myself a head start. What I didn't count on was the bus rides taking so long and I had to change buses twice! At the last bus stop I was supposed to simply walk to the store but from where I stood there wasn't a single store in sight. I started off in one direction walking a long distance only to discover, after asking three people, that I was headed the wrong way. I did a U-turn and headed the other way, walking twice the initial distance I'd walked earlier and I heaved a huge sigh of relief when I saw the sign belonging to the store I was looking for. Phew! Thank God, now all I needed to do was walk in, collect my stuff and go home. Right? Wrong! Getting to the store and picking up the stuff was the easy part finding my way home? That was when the adventure started. I'll tell you about it in my next post.

Isabel* and Steve** - Not their real names.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

2 years and counting!

Maybe that should read 6 years and counting huh?

Well simply because it was around this time 6years ago that I first laid eyes on you. At first I had thought it was a gathering of a few corpers from my school who were trying to connect with each other at the NYSC camp until an argument broke out on which school was better, our own University of Technology or your own Ife. You did quite a good job defending the "Great Ife" even though you were easily outnumbered. I didn't really believe you attended Ife 'cos you were just too soft-spoken. Ife guys were Aluta guys! ASUU strikes originated from there for pete's sake! They didn't talk quietly, uh-uh *shaking my head*
Funny thing, but that was all the memory I had of you as we left the place that day -"The Great Ife guy with the quiet voice"

Amazingly, our lines crossed and re-crossed until we found each other working on the same team! I found it so easy to talk to you and you were such a good listener that sometimes I stopped mid-sentence to ask "am I talking too much?" Your answer was pretty much the same every time, "Nah, go ahead. I enjoy listening to you". I would smile and plunge right back into whatever it was I was saying.

We built this friendship of ours for 2 years before we decided to take it a step further. We agreed to turn our friendship into a 'real' relationship. One with prospects for the future. We became committed to each other. I still think you had it a bit too easy , hahaha! I should have let you give me an outright chase. You know, I should have acted coy, and pretended that I didn't know what you were talking about...I'm sure you get. I didn't have the 'liver' I guess. I was so in love! I'd never felt the way I felt with you and I knew in my heart that I wasn't just being infatuated. There was just something about us. It wasn't anything fiery or passionate....I'm trying to gather my words to explain it. There was a steadiness about us. A solidness. Yeah there was passion in our eyes when we looked at each other but we weren't all about passion. There was a fulness. A well-roundedness. Am I getting verbose now? Hehehe!

With you, suddenly, my future was clear and much more defined. And as we talked each one of the dreams we had for our individual futures, it was as though each one was speaking the other's heart! I had always wondered when I was younger if marriage would somehow reduce me and place me behind a man in such a way that I was only allowed to walk in his shadow. I had such an independent mind that I had heard comments like "Enkay, take it easy o! No man wants to feel like his wife is a challenge". I couldn't understand it. So did it mean that i could never rise to my highest height in life just because I was married?
You managed to dispel my fears with your words and I trusted you. Even though they seemed like mere words at first, I knew you were a man who was true to his words.

Exactly 2 years ago today, we walked down the aisle to say our vows. Everything happened so fast and suddenly the minister declared us "Man and Wife!". I remember that day like it was yesterday, the specifics are a bit blurry but these words reverberated in my subconscious....."I believe this is forever"

I kept saying to myself, "Enkay, you are married and this is forever!". I wasn't saying it out of fear but I guess i was trying to impress it upon my self on every level. "This is forever! A life of pure bliss!"

I could tell anyone just how beautiful our lives have been since then and indeed it has. Entwined in that beauty have been challenges. Real challenges that have often stretched us and in the process caused us to grow. Baby, sometimes I looked and I thought,
"how are we going to get over this one now?"
Not once did I see you waver and you weren't just trying to be strong for me. Your faith in God, in yourself and in us has amazed me again and again. To tell the truth, it sometimes irked me. Hahaha! How is it that you are not reacting to this piece of news like I am? How can you stay so strong? Those were my thoughts.
I remember those times too when it seemed like you'd had it and you knew it was okay to be vulnerable sometimes.

Remember those words with which you dispelled my fears about being myself and stretching myself as far as I could even after marriage? You have stayed true to them still. You have been the extra wind beneath my wings constantly urging me to soar and soar even higher. Not once have I felt hedged in. If anything, you expressed concern over my seeming lack of inspiration sometimes.

Today, I celebrate you. I celebrate us. Our challenges and our victories. Our lives and the fullness of it all. There is nothing we cannot accomplish together. This is to our future, so bright, so beautiful.The mere though of it makes me giggle with anticipation, almost like a little girl.

You know what? I can truly and honestly say that today, I love you even more than I did in the beginning.

Happy Anniversary my love!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Pissy-Pissy! (II)

Night had never seemed so long to me. I watched from the edge of my empty bunk as one by one everyone snuggled under their blankets, getting comfortable in preparation for the 7 to 8 hours of sleep they were going to get.

Sleep! Oh, precious sleep! My feet were beginning to hurt from standing so long so I stooped to my haunches. Some seniors at the far end of the room were talking and chuckling intermittently in hushed tones. That was about the only sound that could be heard in the apartment, that is, of course with the exception of the occasional snore or creak of a bunk under the weight of someone shifting into a more comfortable position.

Tired of stooping, I gradually lowered my butt to the floor and stretched out my legs in front of me. It must have been mid-night, everywhere was quiet. I wasn't sure why but I just couldn't get myself to fall asleep. I don't remember what I did to fill in the time but one thing I do remember clearly is that I wasn't the least bit afraid.

I listened to the sounds of the night outside silently amazed at how loudly the crickets seemed to be chirping. Some toads were croaking off in the distance and I imagined that they were all part of a large toad-y choir all lined up in front of a nice looking toad who was the choir master expertly coordinating their croaky singing. At a point, the loud croaking would cease abruptly for all of two minutes and then suddenly as though in response to the choir master's signal, some tiny insignificant toad would cue everyone in again by making a lone loud croak. The chorus starts all over again.
I wondered briefly what it must feel like to be a toad and sing in the choir but that thought was promptly squelched when it occurred to me that being a toad would mean that I would be outside in some stale pond shivering to death!

And then I felt it. That urgency you feel in the region of your groin that indicates that you've been holding on to your pee a long time. But I hadn't been holding in pee. I felt the urge to pee and already I felt really pressed? The urine was threatening to spill out of my bladder unaided so I pressed my outstretched legs together. I looked at the door then down at the region of my errant bladder and back at the door trying to mentally calculate how many seconds it would take me to dash to the door, throw the latch open and fly to the bathroom to pee.

I barely made it outside before the flood gates were thrown open. Trying to get to the bathroom would be a waste of effort, the pee was coming and it won't be stopped. I simply jumped onto the front lawn all the while struggling to tug down my panties. I bent down and let go. Peeing never felt so relieving. Ha! With my panties still hanging within the region of my knees,I resisted the strong urge to let out a loud "woo-hoo!". Instead, I placed my hands on my waist and threw my head back. With my eyes looking straight up into the star-filled skies and my lips broadened in a wide smile, I whispered a heart-felt "Thank You!". I pulled my panties back on and pranced happily back into the room.

I felt truly accomplished as I discovered for the first time the mechanics behind my peeing in bed at night. I had no doubt that had I been sleeping at the time I felt 'pressed' to pee, I'd have done it in bed without even making an effort! Somehow, I felt that the reason for staying awake that night had been accomplished. Of course I still didn't have a mattress but I suddenly knew what to do. It was the best option under the circumstance. I took my blanket and folded it two to give it some extra thickness and laid it on the floor. I laid on it bedsheet after bedsheet all folded in like manner and it wasn't long before i had me a make-shift mattress, a slim one though it was. Curled up in my favorite sleep position, I pulled my cover-cloth over my head and promptly fell asleep. I woke up early just before the wake-up call. I didn't want anyone to catch me on the floor with my make-shift mattress. Surprisingly, I felt as refreshed as though I had had a full 8-hour sleep instead of just 4. And the best part? My bedding was dry!

That was how my new sleep routine began. I stayed up till very late and ensured that I pee-d my 'midnight' pee. Then I went about setting up my make-shift mattress, going to sleep and getting up early. My results were consistent. Not once did I slip. Until the night I got caught.

Seyi was in form two. We didn't really talk much to each other except for the occasional "good-morning" which I mumbled to her whenever our paths crossed in the apartment as we all hurriedly tried to get dressed and get to our morning duty posts. Form one students didn't really owe form two students any ounce of respect because in truth, we were all in the same category of 'junior girl'. I didn't see any harm in showing a little bit of respect to Seyi anyway, besides, I greeted almost every one by default. Mommy taught me well!

There I was, enjoying my sweet solitude, sitting on the floor by my empty bunk, legs outstretched as usual waiting for the pressing urge to pee when suddenly my eyes were drawn to the the bunk diagonally opposite mine and there was Seyi peering down at me wide eyed from the top of her bunk.
For the first time since I started my new sleep routine I was startled and I could feel fear creeping up my spine. I held Seyi's eyes willing her to go back to sleep. For the first time too, I felt rather odd and ashamed. Like I was doing something really wrong, even diabolical. Seyi held my gaze and then I tilted my head at her questioningly. That was when she sat up on her bed and with an incredulous look on her face she whispered rather loudly "What are you doing there?"
I put my forefinger against my lips and shushed her as quietly as I could "Ssshhhh!".
She took surreptitious glances at both ends of the room as though to assure herself that no one had been disturbed and then she proceeded to come down from her bunk.
I waved both arms frantically at her "No, no, no no!"
She paused, looked at me and whispered , loudly still, "Tell me what you are doing on the floor!" The girl obviously lacked proper whispering skills.
She was surely going to get us both into trouble. I quickly pushed myself up, off the ground and in three long strides, I was by her bunk.

"You know I no longer have a mattress abi?" I began by way of explanation.
I quickly filled her in on my ordeal the past few weeks where I've had to sleep on the floor and the fear of embarrassment being the reason I had to wait until everyone was asleep before laying my 'bed'. By the time I was through, the look on her face said "You poor thing!".
Seyi turned to go back to sleep and I was satisfied, at least she would leave me alone now.
I made to return to my place when I felt her hand on my shoulder. She patted the space beside her and said, "You can share my bed Enkay".
There was an earnest look in her face and I knew she wasn't just pitying me. I was really touched by her kindness so I accepted.

The bed was so soft and warm that I fell asleep immediately. By morning I was alarmed at the wetness I felt on my night clothes. "Oh no!"
Seyi was no longer beside me. I knew I was done for. I'd taken the girl's kindness and peed all over it. I felt so bad!
Then the strangest thing happened. I took off my soiled night clothes but found that my panties were not wet. How was that possible? I was pondering on the mystery when I heard someone whisper my name. I turned and there was Seyi.
"Enkay, I'm really sorry about last night" she pleaded.
I was still trying to make head and tail of her statement when she raised her hands in which she held the night clothes she'd just changed out of.

It turned out that Seyi had wet her bed the night before! By the time that morning was over, Seyi and I had become fast friends. We were both pissy-pissies!
She wasn't half as chronic a bed-wetter as I was but she was one all the same. It was only then I explained to her exactly what I was doing on the floor the night and my newest discovery for preventing nightly episodes.
She was excited! We both tried it out and it worked!

She didn't have to follow a strict regimen like me because Seyi wet her bed only about once in 2 or 3 weeks but she was kind enough to keep me company.
By the end of my third term in JS1, I had become a brand new Enkay! I had a brand new mattress and not once did I wet my bed again. Amazingly, I no longer needed to stay awake at night. Even in the deepest part of my sleep, whenever I felt the urge,I simply got up and went to the bathroom. I was sure it was a miracle!

Needless to say, the name Pissy-Pissy no longer applied to me. Everyone just called me Enkay!

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Did you read the title right?

Yeah you did. It says "pissy-pissy!". At one point in my life, that was my nick name.

For the few of you who have no idea what pissy-pissy means, that's what you call a chronic bed-wetter.

There was nothing my parents didn't do to deal with this "issue" of their daughter's.

At one time, they said, no drinking of water after 6pm. They were strict about it and if I so much as looked at a glass longingly, I was in trouble.
It didn't work.

At another time, my mom made herself my personal 'peeing-guard'. She'd come to my room and wake me up at least 3 times every night.

It worked a bit but by the third day, I'd have already wet the bed before she got there to take me to the bathroom. And I'd be standing there all drenched in my own urine while my mom dutifully took off my soiled night clothes and changed them. She'd then change the soiled beddings to clean dry ones. Chances are that by morning I'd have soiled those too! Till date, I'm amazed at her patience!

The next thing was my aunties' threatening to go traaditional with me. They told me that back in the village, little boys and girls who wet their beds at
night had snakes and lizards tied around their waists. They swore that it worked wonders and that those children never again wet their beds. I took them seriously and out of fear, I think I actually did not wet the bed for at least a week at a stretch!

But that was as long as it lasted.

Finally, after being "pissy-pissy" for the first 7 years of my life, my parents took me to see a doctor.They were convinced I had a weak bladder. Yet the test results came in and pronounced my 'equipment' in perfect working condition. They put it down to psychological issues.
They asked me all sorts of questions -

Do you always dream that you're pissing in your dream? No.
Do you always feel pressed while you're asleep? No.
All my answers didn't bring them any closer to solving my bed-wetting puzzle. The truth is that I'm not even aware of pissing in bed until I wake up and find my clothes wet. The doctor decided to study my 'pissing'patterns. My parents were to fill in a chart of what I ate each day and to state whether or not I wet the bed each night. I still don't know what became of that study.
Needless to say, I remained pissy-pissy till I was eleven.

While I was busy being excited at the prospect of traveling more than 700km to start boarding school somewhere in the northern part of Nigeria, my mother was worrying herself sick about my 'pissing' issues.
My parents went on a shopping spree and bought us all kinds of stuff to go to school with (my sister and I were admitted the same year into different schools), needless to say that half of the stuff were termed 'contraband' at the school gate and taken away for 'safe-keeping'. But that story is for another day.

The night before I was to leave, my mother pulled me aside and explained to me the exact manner in which I was to make my bed in order to minimize bladder 'accidents'. She'd packed into my box this linoleum spread that we generally referred to as 'mackintosh' way back then.
The way she looked at me with a plea in her eyes almost made me feel sorry for myself. And maybe I did, for about five seconds or so.
I threw my arms around her neck and gave her a huge hug, assuring her that she had nothing to worry about. And I had reason to feel somewhat confident. The frequency of my peeing had gone from three times each night to once every night to once every other night. If you were in my shoes, you'd see that as enough reason to be quite smug.

That trip was one of my most memorable trips. For the first time, I caught a glimpse of just how large and beautiful this great country was. My entire young life up until that point had been confined to the streets and avenues of FESTAC town and a few other parts of Lagos. All the other states of Nigeria were mere pictures of lines and dots on a map.

I arrived the school in that awestruck mood, ready for whatever my new life held in store for me. In a few hours after arriving, I was shown my bed space and locker. I had never had the 'luxury' of sleeping on a metal bunk and I felt quite accomplished after several failed
attempts at climbing onto the top bunk finally yielded success. It was a spectacle to behold. Every conceivable part of my body was involved in the climbing exercise - arms, feet, chin, chest, abdomen...I'm sure you get the picture. As they say, practice makes perfect. By the time it was nightfall, I'd mastered the climbing art quite some. And I fell asleep with a smile on my face. It was my first night in boarding school.

I wish I could explain to you the shock with which I landed on the floor from that height. All my 'de-bunking' skills promptly forgotten, I must have flown off the bed. I was confused. Several voices were barking at me all at the same time and hands were pulling me here and there. I couldn't for the life of me fathom where I was. And all these faces....I panicked! My first thought was to find the nearest exit out of the place or better still, wake up from this really bad dream. And then suddenly, it hit me! Oh! This was school! It all started coming back to me slowly....moving my stuff into the room; placing my toiletories and provisions in my locker; making my bed; practicing climbing onto and climbing down from my top bunk... Twai! A slap across my face hastened the recollection process. I held my left cheek in my left hand and locked eyes with senior Kanayo. Suddenly, I knew exactly what had happened.

I had wet the bed and it had dripped all over her from my bed to hers on the bottom bunk. In all my excitement, I had forgotten to spread the mackintosh beneath my bedsheets.

Several seniors had gathered to commiserate with senior Kanayo and after some deliberation, they all decided that I was to be pardoned seeing as I was a new student and they 'understood' that sleeping in a strange bed could do 'strange' things to anyone.
After several weeks however, it became clear that my pissing in bed wasn't so strange after all as it had become a nightly event. Even though I never again rained piss on senior Kanayo, the stench of fermented adult piss that emanated from my bed could not be mistaken. The name "pissy-pissy" was becoming synonymous with the name Enkay.

By the time we were half way through the first term, my mackintosh was in tatters from being spread in the sun hours on end. My regular bedsheets were gradually becoming thread bare from being washed every other day and my mattress was slowly becoming non-existent. Let me explain that part about becoming non-existent.

My smelly mattress was not allowed to stay in the room - for obvious reasons of course. Every morning, before I left for class, I had to spread it on the front lawn. I was only allowed to bring it in after supper, just before bed time. One of those days, while I struggled to take my mattress into the room, it got caught in shards of glass from broken louvers in a window. That was the first of several tears that had my mattress-cover ripped to shreds exposing only the foam underneath.

It wasn't really a problem at first until I returned to the hostel one day to find a fist-sized chunk of my mattress missing. A fist-sized chunk didn't matter especially when it was at the bottom but it started to matter when the missing chunks increased in size and frequency.
You see, the floors of the apartments in the hostels had to be mopped every morning and the 'mops' were usually chunks of foam and guess where those foams came from? Unsuspecting exposed mattresses such as mine!

Soon, my mattress became the 'mop' target. Every single day, a piece went away to become a mop and my mattress steadily dwindled. By mid-term, the length of my mattress was just a little longer than an average pillow. It no longer qualified to be called a mattress.

One day, just before I left for class I took out my 'mattress', dropped it on the front lawn and silently said good bye to it. It was as though I knew I would never see it again 'cos that afternoon, it rained and my mattress was flooded. There was no hope of recovery.
When night fell, I stood by my empty bunk and watched as everyone snuggled under their blankets and settled in for the night. I was probably going to stand all night.

I had to overcome my 'pissing' problem. You'll see how in my next post!

Monday, June 29, 2009


To tell the truth, it wasn’t such a bad idea.

Everyone knows that Fridays are dress-down days. You’re allowed to showcase a milder version of your traditional outfits. Ankara, Tie and Dye, Dry Lace, Java, Woodin, Akosombo…the list is endless. I already knew what I was going to wear the next day – my cute, yet-to-be-worn Java Gold skirt and blouse. It was stylish yet not too dressy at the same time.

I am one of those who pick out all the clothes to be worn for the week every Sunday evening. I have it all set out to the littlest detail. When they’ve been ironed, they’d be hung in the wardrobe in the exact order in which they are to be worn. It made life easier and a lot less complicated. Besides, seeing as I hate ironing so much, it made sense to restrict ironing to one day each week.

You can therefore imagine the extent to which my eyebrows were arched when my friend and colleague Zeb suggested that we dressed differently for the next day, Friday. Instead of the usual traditional look, why don’t we dress in sporty outfits? T-shirt, jeans and a pair of trainers.
“Let’s do something different for a change!” He exclaimed when he saw the disapproving look on my face.
“Okay” He continued, “do this for me just once and if you don’t like it, I swear, I’ll never suggest anything like this again”.
I sighed and walked past him and then with a backward glance I told him to give me till the end of the day. He’d know my answer then and not a second before.

At least that kept him off my back for the rest of the day. Zeb was such a nice guy that it’s really difficult to turn him down. It’s not that he was incapable of doing his own thing; he just felt that life was a lot better when shared. Why enjoy the ‘different’ look alone when we could both do it together? Yeah right.

The thing though on my mind was the fact that I didn’t have any respectable pair of trainers to my name. That was going to be my strongest point when I turned Zeb down at the close of work…What? Do you want me to come to work tomorrow in a pair of trainers that look like they’ve seen better days...?
That argument remained intact in my mind until it was 15minutes to closing time. I don’t know what triggered that memory. I don’t know what brought it forward from my subconscious but suddenly, I was bubbling with excitement. My Sexy Grey Trainers! But of course!!
I couldn’t wait to get home. It’d been so long since I saw them trainers that I was nearly afraid someone had thrown them away. It had to be under the bed somewhere, it just had to be!
My answer to Zeb was brief and clear. I’ll go along with this little scheme of yours if and only IF I find MSGT. I don’t care if you know what that stands for, just pray I find them!

Less than an hour after I got home, the entire room which I shared with two other sisters of mine was in complete disarray. The mattresses had come off and I was struggling with the wooden bottom frames of the bed which supported the mattresses. Shoes were strewn everywhere, most of them old and covered in dust. My Sexy trainers had to be here somewhere! I was beginning to panic.
It was another thirty minutes before I found them wrapped in a fancy colored polythene bag. Aha! I remembered that bag. And the shoes were in pristine condition just like they were when I’d wrapped them up 2 years before, or so I thought. My Sexy Grey Trainers at last!

They were my companion when I’d gone to Camp 2 years before. Someone had advised that I went with a pair of personal trainers because sometimes the white canvas given to corpers by the NYSC was usually oversize. True to form, when I got to camp, mine were like a pair of canoes on my feet. My trainers served me well. After camp I found not much use for them so I wrapped them up the bag, placed them under my bed and promptly forgot about them. Now they were going to serve me well again tomorrow when I and Zeb showed up at work dressed ‘differently’.

Friday dawned bright and clear. I kept walking to and fro Zeb’s cubicle all morning. I couldn’t believe he was late! Like a little girl, I wanted to show off my ‘dress’ and tell him how many approving looks I’d already received from the other guys just that morning alone.

Finally I could hear his voice several cubicles from my own. I wasn’t going to wait for him to get to mine; I was going to meet him there.
I got up a little too quickly and dropped my pen. I bent to pick it up and that’s when I noticed for the first time dark circles of grey dust on the tiled floor. I bent lower to get a closer look. Did I pick something up on my way to work? No time for this now. I’ll sort it out later. Zeb was already on his way to my desk and I wanted to be ready, striking the right pose when he got there. And I did just in time! He even made me do the twirl as though I was showing off a ball gown instead of a pair of Jeans and a T-shirt. It was clear he liked what he saw.

He didn’t look bad himself and I told him so.
“I see you found MSGT?” He said.
“Yes! How did you know what it was?!”
“I don’t. You said you’ll go along with my scheme only if you found it”
“Oh” I had on a sheepish grin as I raised my right foot while supporting myself against my desk “These are MSGT – My Sexy Grey Trainers!” I was laughing now.
He just shook his head at me and was turning to leave when his eyes caught something on the floor next to my feet. I knew at once by the look on his face that he wasn’t trying to get an up-close view of my trainers.
I looked down and to my horror there was more of the grey dust smeared all over the area where I’d done the twirl. From his bending position Zeb looked up at me.
“Raise your feet again” he said.
I did and he caught hold of my left foot and bent it in such a way as to get a view of the soles of my trainers.
“What?!” I exclaimed questioningly as he shook his head at me.
I withdrew my foot from his hand and grabbed a hold of my shin so that I could raise my foot backwards and view it for myself.
My eyes widened as I saw that there were several holes on the soles of the trainers from where the grey dust flaked off.
I raised the other foot and it was even worse. Some of the holes in this one had no more grey dust in them, they were empty. Empty holes!
I quietly sat back down on my chair. The mirth of the last few minutes already forgotten.

This was not good. Not good at all.
Zeb knew enough to just leave me alone. I was sure I could make it to the end of the day without incident if I just sat at my desk.
But I couldn’t very well just sit at my desk all day. I had to get lunch.
Okay, if I walked gently and slowly, the holes should hold.
Zeb was being nice but I was suspicious. We were half way to the cafeteria and I’d been doing so well with my slow walk when suddenly “Plaat!” The sole at the tip of my right trainer split open!

“Ohmygod! Ohmygod! Zeb!” I yelped.

He stopped short and I stood still, pointing at my right foot. And you won’t believe what happened next.
Zeb burst out laughing!
He was laughing so hard that there were tears in his eyes when he finally got a hold of himself.

“Enkay, I’m sorry....
hahahaha!.....I’m sorry, I’m not laughing at you…hahahaha!...I swear, I’m just laughing at the trainers….I swear…hahaha!.”

Msheeeeew! I just turned around and went back to my office. I’d reached my desk before I realized that I’d left quite a chunk of my right trainer sole in the elevator.
And suddenly it all seemed really hilarious to me and I started laughing all by myself.
My trainers were serving well me indeed! So much for my ‘different’ look.

The worst was yet to come.

On our way home, Zeb and I had to walk down the road to the bus stop to catch the bus.
Every few steps had me leaving small chunks of my trainers behind.
Whenever the bit came off, I’d say “Oops! There goes another sexy piece!” And we’d both burst out laughing.
By the time we boarded the bus, the right shoe was in tatters. Several chunks were missing from the center but the overall external frame was still somewhat intact and then there was that ugly split in front. A whole chic like me! “Ewu!”

We were just a few passengers left in the bus. Zeb and I occupied the seat at the back with one other woman. Somehow I caught the lady’s eyes on me and smiled at her. She was probably embarrassed at being caught staring so she dipped her head and that’s when she did THE double take. (You know how someone glances at something momentarily and in looking away, something catches their eyes and they take another, quick, usually more surprised look? That’s a double take.)
She was looking at my trainers!
I followed her gaze and there on the floor was one whole edge of my right trainer sole. It was still attached to the shoe but it was hanging at an impossible angle and any movement would yank it off!
The lady couldn’t contain herself and she looked like she was about to say something. I didn’t give her a chance as I straightened up and looked straight ahead as though nothing happened.
Ha! My bus-stop at last! I hurriedly got off the bus and I could have sworn that the woman was going to throw my chunk of sole out after me.

The bus-stop was a good five minute’s walk from my house. I braced my self and took the plunge. Yet nothing prepared me for what happened next.

Most of the day, all the ‘incidents’ were with the right foot of my trainers. The left one had behaved itself mostly. Apart from the initial flaking, there had been no major mishap.
Just as I passed by Dee Sam’s shop hoping he wasn’t there to shout out his customary greeting “You don return from work?” my left shoe gave out on me.
The entire sole came off! No, not tiny chunks, but the entire thing! And this happened right in front of Dee Sam. He had seen me approach and was undoubtedly preparing his greeting but it froze on his lips as he saw my shoe drama. It was an awkward moment.
We were both sure we knew what had just happened but neither of us was willing to acknowledge it.

He smiled at me “You don return from work?”
And I smiled back “Yes. How Business today…?” and I walked on, leaving my soles behind. It definitely could not get any worse than that. I practically jogged the rest of the way home and stood at the door waiting for any sibling to come see me in all my embarrassment.
The first one at the door opened it and stared at me wondering why I was standing outside. I looked down at my feet and she followed my gaze. It took her a few seconds to realize what she was seeing and she burst out laughing. I joined her and laughed so hard that tears came to my eyes.

We left the trainers at the door ready to give the story in detail to anyone who asked. My Sexy Grey Trainers….How are the mighty fallen! Hahahaha!

PS: The moral of this story?
When next anyone called Zeb asks you to dress differently for Friday. Tell him Capital N-O. No!!!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Arranged.....well ahead of time.

The day was turning out to be one of those bad days. The clouds were darkening, gathering enough momentum for a heavy down pour.
Why won't any car stop for me? I'd been standing at that junction for close to 20 minutes - seemed more like one hour - and my furious flagging had yet to catch the attention of any benevolent driver.

I had hardly caught a shut eye while riding in that rickety coaster bus all the way from Lagos to Abuja the night before.
The bus was cramped and I was sandwiched between two chunky guys each one attempting to strike a conversation with me. They weren't succeeding and worse still they couldn't take a hint and shush it!

That road trip qualifies as the worst I've ever had. Somewhere around Kogi state at about 4am there were shouts of "Armed robbers! Armed robbers!!" Our driver did a quick U-turn and we were heading right back the way we came from. I was so scared!
Eventually, we made it to Abuja in one piece. I barely caught my friend on her way out and she gave me just enough time to drop my stuff and take a quick shower before we had to leave again.

I was headed back to Kogi state. Ajaokuta Steel Company to be precise. I had a 9 o'clock appointment with one Mr Saheed there and it was already 7am. I was already late. The trip to Lokoja was going to take 3 hours and I had just 2hrs to spare. Things were already beginning to look bad.

I made it safely to Ajaokuta town but my challenge at that time was how to get from the junction of the main gate to the office complex. Taxis and okadas were stopped at the gate. You could only get to the office complex by the "city train" - the company staff bus or by private vehicle. The city train only worked at specific hours owing to the fact that staff of the steel complex worked several shifts.
I had just about given up when an okada stopped to ask if I wanted to get to the complex. I paused only long enough to verify that he was actually a private okada owner and I hurriedly got on it before someone else beat me to it.
I was so relieved to finally be on my way that it was a rude shock to feel a drop of rain on my arm. "Aw no! Not now!" I looked up pleading with the rain clouds to just go away, I almost sang that rain song we used to sing as children "...Rain, rain go away, come again another day...".
It didn't work.
The heavens opened up in defiance of my plea. I and the okada rider were drenched. It couldn't be helped as there was no shelter between the main gate and the security outpost at the complex.
I got off the okada and tried to squeeze out the edges of my skirt. It didn't make any difference. The security men pitied me and asked me to come into their office to wait out the rain and probably dry off a bit.
I was grateful but that didn't take the scowl off my face.
Today of all days!!

The rain slowed to a drizzle and I made my way into the main building all the while conscious of my wet dress. No one seemed to mind though. The rain was enough excuse for anyone to come into the building soaking wet if they wanted to.
I was relieved to find Mr. Saheed in his office. It turned out that he didn't remember the exact time we'd fixed for the appointment and he even apologized that I was beaten by the rain.
Strangely, that made feel better.
Better that is, until he broke the news to me.
"I'm sorry Enkay, but we cannot confirm your placement here until you prove to us that you have a place to stay"

"But I was of the impression that the company provided accomodation..."

"Yes that was several years ago. We stopped when we discovered that most of the industrial training students treated our facilities poorly and even destroyed some of our property..."

No amount of pleading could prove to Mr. Saheed that I was an Industrial attachment student with a difference.
I picked up my bag and walked out of his office. Tears threatened to spill from my eyes but I fought them back. Eventually, I just let them pour.

So my trip was just a waste of precious time? I had taken that night bus the previous day because I had felt that that was the fastest way to get here before the deadline.
I made my way back to the security outpost. I was a familiar face and the security men did not bother me as I pulled out a chair. The rain had started again. I was in no particular hurry anyway, so I decided to wait it out.

I held the letter in my hand. The letter that offered me a place in the steel complex as an industrial attache. If I had been accepted, I wouldn't have been holding that letter.

My mind went back to how I even came to have that letter in the first place. I'd found out that one of my professors in school was on the board of Directors of the Steel Company. I'd gone to his office feeling really small as I asked him if there was anything he could do to help me get a placement at the company. He told me he was due to go on his sabbatical in a few weeks and that he wasn't sure he'd be having anything to do with the company for the period he'd be out of the country. He ended by saying he'd see what he could do. That didn't offer me much hope.

He left and I didn't hear anything about the issue until four months later when my HOD informed me that I had a letter to pick up at the Department office. The professor had done more than he promised. He'd delivered my IT placement to me on a platter of gold.

What was I to do now? Go back home and wait? Wait for what?
My thoughts were interrupted by a ruckus outside. I looked up and there were teenagers everywhere. Even though they weren't wearing any school uniforms, I got the impression they were students from a nearby school. I ignored them because frankly, a bunch of noisy kids was the least of my problems.

At that time, a bald headed guy walked into the room. I gave him a cursory glance and returned my gaze to the letter in my hands.

"Ahn, ahn, why the sad look? Was today's paper tough?"

I looked up with a question mark on my face.

"Are you talking to me?"
"Yes now. Was the paper tough?"
"Paper? Tough?"
He laughed and the expression on his face was like "Duh?"
"Are you not one the GCE students?"
"Me? GCE?"
This guy was obviously not a serious person. I silently hissed and turned to look out the window willing the 'gorimapa' guy to just disappear from my side. I had no time for such nonsense.

"Ah! Sorry o! I thought you were one of those students." The guy was far from disappearing.

"Really. So I look like a GCE candidate to you abi?"

He only smiled. That smile accentuated a scar on his face that I hadn't noticed before. I was curious but I wasn't going to ask.

"My name is Segun and I work here" He offered me his hand.
I could have ignored him but it struck me that this guy just might be able to help me. I took his hand and shook it slightly and introduced myself.

"Enkay. I'm an IT student. Well not really. I came to confirm my placement here..." I handed him the letter and continued. "...but the guy said he could not confirm me until I had proof of an accommodation."

He handed me back the letter with a look on his face as though he were about to reprimand me for some wrong doing.

"So that's why you were crying?" I didn't think that my face still bore traces of the tears I'd cried earlier. He continued, "Don't you know that when you get to a place where you know nobody, you should first ask for the corpers?"

I was about to scoff at his statement when he grabbed my hand and pulled me up from the chair.
"Oya go upstairs now and tell Mr Saheed that you would come with proof of accommodation tomorrow morning. Drop your letter with him and tell him you would be back by 8am sharp"

I looked into his face to see if he was actually serious but I didn't have the time to ask him. He was already ushering me outside. "Hurry up! I'll be waiting for you when you get back".
I couldn't smile. It was all happening so fast. I hurried up to the lobby and I looked back one more time at the security outpost just to be sure. Sure enough, Segun was still at the door waving me in from that distance.

I found Mr. Saheed who agreed to take the letter from me but warned that it would not be signed until I returned with my proof. I agreed and rushed back downstairs somehow harboring fears that Segun might have disappeared.

He was still there. I couldn't help but smile at him in relief. He smiled back. There was that scar again.
I walked out of the complex with him and he handed me a note to one Fatima. He put me in a taxi and gave the driver directions.
He said he'd see me later that evening but that I shouldn't worry. Fatima would take good care of me.

The taxi dropped me off and I walked down a well-worn path to an area occupied by several portakabins. There must have been like twenty of them arranged in no particular order. There was still a slight drizzle and not a soul was in sight.

I pondered my predicament. Were all the portakabins occupied? Was I to go knocking on every door asking for Fatima? If so, where do I start?
I was still standing at the spot where I'd stopped to think when a lady came out of one of the cabins towards my immediate left. It was obvious she hadn't seen me as I was not in her line of vision. She had a bucket with her from which she threw out some water onto the front lawn.

I knew that if I didn't make my move then, she'd go back inside and I'd have to go knocking.

"Excuse me!" I called as I hurried towards her.
She had a startled look on her face which disappeared when she saw it was just me. No danger here.
She held the bucket by the handle and let it hang by her side and turned to face me as she watched me approach.

"Please I'm here to see Fatima" I noticed that the lady had a pleasant face which gave nothing away when she replied.

"Who's looking for her?"

"Er..Segun asked me to give her a note" I said as I fumbled with my handbag to produce the said note.
She reached out her free hand to collect the note from me and I hesitated for a fraction of a second before handing it to her.
She read the note and without a word motioned for me to follow her inside.

I thought that was strange but I followed her anyway.

Her room was cosy and I was glad to finally be able to sit down and relax. Fatima didn't say much but she was a wonderful hostess. She filled my tummy and and offered me a space on her bed to catch some sleep.

Later that evening, Segun arrived with another guy and a signed letter authorizing me to stay in one of the portacabins in the back and he brought me the keys to prove it too!

My heart was so full. I had no words to express my gratitude.

Everything happened real quick after that. I had more than enough proof for Mr. Saheed the next day and my letter was signed. I returned to Abuja to get my stuff and moved into my own room.
From then on, I became a part of this community of Youth Corpers. They included me in almost all of their activities and I soon began to see myself as one of them.

I found out later that the room I was given belonged to one of them who had an uncle working at the complex. He preferred to live with his uncle hence the free space. No one asked me for a dime. It was all free!

When I fell ill, they all rallied round me and the doctor corpers got me free treatment at the hospital. Fatima cooked for me and made me feel comfortable all through. She even made me stay in her room throughout the ordeal. When I got better, she told me I could stay on if I wanted. I wanted, so I did! We became fast friends.

Segun told me that all the corpers did PP (Private Practice) and if I wanted, he could get me a part-time job. He came through once again and I found myself earning some extra bucks effortlessly!

When it was time for the NCCF Rural Rugged, I volunteered my services. The expedition was to go to a village not too far from Ajaokuta but it was accross a river, and we were to take the gospel to the people as well as render humanitarian services. Those 3 days among the villagers were simply awesome. We brought smiles on their faces and the trip was well worth it, mosquitoes and all.

6 months passed by so fast. Where did all the time go?
Unbeknownst to me, the corpers organized a surprise send off party for me. I was so thrilled that I cried. The tears just kept coming and I didn't bother wiping them off. I hugged all my friends one after the other knowing that I may never see them again. I had a basketful of gifts!

It was on the ride back home that it occurred to me that those six months didn't happen by chance.
I counted off on my fingers one experience after the other. At every impossible turn, there was a solution.
Getting the letter, meeting Segun, the free room, the free medical care, the extra bucks (I wasn't getting a dime from the company the whole time), my new found friends, the opportunity to volunteer and even the opportunity to work at the complex!(I was the only one in my entire class to get a first hand experience of the workings of the steel complex).

No, none of these happened by chance. it was all arranged just for me, well ahead of time.

Up till now, those six months stand out as one of the most memorable periods of my life.
Every time I face a tough period, I remember those six months and I'm comforted, knowing that I'm simply part of the bigger picture. A work in progress while my heavenly Father puts all the pieces together.

I am not a child of Chance. I am a child of Destiny. Divine Destiny!

PS: I never got to ask Segun about that scar. I'm still curious! lol!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Thankful Post -The 'E' Edition

Seems like everyone's getting their various Thankful Editions out. Thanks to Aloted, I finally get to do my 'E' Thankful post.

There's the comfort of knowing that my whole life is Encapsulated by God's love. His presence in my life gives me the feeling of being wrapped around by a warm blanket on a really cold night.

With His word, I find my self Established daily in my walk of faith. I realize that this is not a once-and-for-all thing but a daily decision to submit to His will.

Sometimes I wish I were more 'perfect' than I currently am and I'm working on it but I'm still grateful for the joy of the Lord in my heart. To put it simply, it Enlivens me!
That joy makes me feel like I have been Entrusted with a very special gift. Hmmm, what can I compare this to? Okay, it's like a lamp that's been lit in my heart and it's my responsibility to ensure it never goes out. The joy in my spirit is the fuel that keeps that lamp burning. It's not always easy as tough times threaten to put out that light. I am grateful for the grace I have received time and time again to Endure.

Endurance over time has helped to strengthen my character and sense of self-worth. It has given me the Enablement to persevere and come out stronger on the other side. It's amazing the beauty that shines out of our lives after we have been well polished by adversity.

,There's an even greater beauty when we share our lives with that special someone. I have been blessed with a man who has me Enamored with his love. To put it like Adaeze has, there's no sugarcoating this. Sometimes our lives are reduced to mere routines yet in the midst of it, we are able to find time to pause and ask "hey babe, how are you?". In the midst of the routine that is sometimes life, we are able to take pleasure in hearing each other's voice or simply Enjoy each other's company.

For all these and more, I am Eternally grateful!!

PS: Phew! That wasn't so bad was it? lol!!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Ten Things Tuesday (05)

I've not forgotten to be thankful. I have just been too lazy to blog about them. I think thanksgiving is not just the act of listing out all the things that we are thankful for. I'm beginning to recognize it as a state of heart. I said heart and not mind because they are two different things entirely.

Our mind is where we have our thoughts and emotions and they are constantly being battered by external circumstances. Circumstances that make us feel there's not much to be grateful for.
Our hearts however are deeper. It's that part of us, our spirits, that's in touch with our heavenly Father. That part that still trusts him. That part that knows beyond all doubt that everything's going to be okay even in the midst of turbulent waters.

Can I get a witness?! Yeah!

So I'm thankful...

  • For the life that I have been given. I have been favored beyond measure.
  • For the successful hosting of our in-laws, friends and family at my sister's traditional wedding.
  • For the prompt intervention of medical personnel when my little sister found she had difficulty in breathing.
  • For the peaceful resolution of issues I had with my insurance company. Even though I'm paying more than I initially thought was due, they've helped me structure it in such a way that it's not too much of a burden.
  • For the safe delivery of my best friend's baby. It was swift and a lot easier than she'd anticipated!
  • For my new healthy eating and daily exercise habit. I intend to keep it up!
  • For P. who developed a really bad cough recently but who is getting better.
  • For God's word, it lights up my path in life and gives me hope when I can't seem to see the horizon.
  • For a new friend I just made on blogville. Thanks for the privilege!
  • For my mom. She's the greatest ever!!
What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Friendships Lost 2

Q's disappearance didn't mean much at first. I thought she was playing a rude prank on me and I was going to let her stew. I didn't have her time anyway, exams were approaching and even though I didn't care that much for my books, I had to show some sign of seriousness.

By the third day of her disappearance, I started getting worried. How is it that I hadn't run into Q. at the tap or in class or even at the dining hall for that matter in the past 3 days? Was she ill and at the clinic on admission? I checked and the nurse hadn't seen her all term. By that weekend, there was a red alert all over school. Q was missing!

I found myself being called to the staff room every few hours. It was dawning on me ever so slowly that I was being held responsible for Q's disappearance. Some prefects were assigned to me and I was to lead them to all our hide -outs searching for her.

Somehow, they were sure she was still within the premises at least most of the time. The teachers kept hearing reports of how they saw her at the borehole at the staff quarters or at the tuckshop gate late one night. There were all sorts of reports but no proof.

"Enkay, you are hiding Q. somewhere, you better produce her or risk being suspended!"

That was our form teacher. She was frustrated and frankly so was I!

That night during night prep, I poured my frustrations into my little diary. I accused Q. of being selfish and mean for playing such a prank and leaving me to stew in her mess. I told her I regretted having her as a friend if friendship with her meant the kind of suffering I'd had to go through for the past few days. I said I didn't understand her and her weird ways at all and that if she ever got back, I'd give her a piece of my mind.

That pretty much sums up what I wrote in that book. I'd really had it up to here and my small 10 year old mind just couldn't take any more.

The next day, we were walking back to class from the old home economics lab (The same one we went to steal water from earlier) and we had to pass by our uncompleted dining hall building. The thing had been abandoned to rot and you usually won't find students in it. Suddenly a class mate screamed "Q!". We all turned to see what the noise was all about. The girl was pointing frantically at a broken window "I just saw Q. in there!". We all stared at her blankly as the window she was pointing at obviously had no Q. in it. She insisted and started walking towards the building. the window in question happened to belong to one of the 12 toilets that lined that side of the building. Since the window was quite high, one of us dragged towards it a broken chair so she could at least get a peek.

She jumped down after a few minutes shaking her head "all I could see were cobwebs broken toilets and dry shit"

I left them there and walked towards the entrance of the building. The rest didn't know it but Q. and I hung out at that uncompleted building sometimes. There were rooms in there I was sure no other person even knew existed. Suddenly, I knew where to look. Sure enough, there she was huddled in a corner of the room. There was dried up feaces everywhere (evidence that some others knew the place better than I'd thought). She just sat there and stared at me with a look that dared me to judge her. Her hair was brown and obviously hadn't been combed in all the 2 weeks she'd been missing. Her uniform was dirty. Really dirty. It was obvious she hadn't had a bath the whole time. Did she sleep out there those two weeks? All by herself and in the cold?
Something about the way she sat there staring at me defiantly made me realize this was no prank. This was more serious than I'd thought.

"Leave the entrance all of you! Clear the way!"

It was our house mistress. I turned to look at her and that's when I realized that the rest of the class had gathered at the door way. I hadn't heard them approach. I did as I was told and stepped aside. I don't know what words were spoken but in a few minutes, Q. was being led to the staff quarters. She was to stay with one of the female teachers.

I was asked to get her clean clothes and fresh underwear. I went to her locker but couldn't seem to find any. They'd probably been thrown out by some overzealous senior. Instead, I got out my own uniforms for her and a set of my newest underwear.

By the time I went back the next day, I could see that the teacher had done quite a good job. Q's hair had been nicely trimmed, even though the unhealthy colour was still there. She looked clean and my uniform though a bit large on her somehow sat right. She wouldn't look at me though. I wondered why. I just sat there in awkward silence. I had so many questions to ask but she returned barlely one day ago and it didn't seem fair to bombard her like that.

She was at the teacher's place for another 2 weeks. Her parents had been notified and they were asked to come get her in person at the close of the term. Stories traveling through the grapevine had it that Q. said she was frustrated and wanted to kill herself. What?! What did a 10year old know about frustration and suicide for goodness' sake?!

Even when she returned to the hostel, Q. still wasn't speaking to me. She avoided me like the plague and treated me like a stranger. What have I done now?

We wrote the exams and got ready to go home. Two nights before we left, Q. walked up to me...
"Thank you very much Enkay. I heard what you wrote about me in your little black book. I thought we were friends. Now I know better."

She just turned and walked away. I was shocked to say the least!
First of all, who told Q. about the stuff I wrote? Secondly, is this how I get paid for the stress she put me through?

The next day when I asked her, she had no explanation but to say "It was B that told me what you wrote!"

She and B had become fast friends in those last few days. I should have known.

I wanted to apologise but Q. didn't give me half a chance.
Her mom came to pick her at the close of the term.

I don't know what the principal told her but Q. never returned to our school the next term. She'd been transferred to another school closer to her hometown.

I never got the chance to say my own side of the story. I never got to apologise. I'd lost Q. forever and with her, a great friendship.

Nearly 20 years later, I run into Q. again. I wish I had something really pleasant to say about that re-union (If you'd call it that). We met again on FB.

"Hi! is this the same Q. that went to XXX school? Do you remember me, Enkay?"
"Yes it me. Nice to see you again. Keep in touch"

And that was it. Nothing more.

From her frofile I could see she'd grown into a pretty, self-assured young woman currently doing post graduate studies somewhere in the UK. I was glad for her. That stint with Enkay many years ago probably forever wiped off her memory.

Still, I'm glad we were ever friends at all. That our paths crossed. For even up till now, I am yet to meet anyone like my dear, dear Q!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Big Three-Oh!

I can’t even remember that day clearly but according to my journal entry –which by the way cannot lie – the date says 8th December 2002 and the title says “Thirty things I would love to do in all of my life time!”

And then I proceeded to make this list of mine but somehow, I only stopped at number 26. I wonder why? Okay, lemme just give you guys a sneak peek into my dream list…. The words in parenthesis are my thoughts on the issues now.

  1. Learn to drive. (Imagine? How come that was number 1? I must have really thought driving was a BIG deal huh? ‘kay that one’s accomplished already, been driving for more than a year now!)
  1. Learn AutoCAD (Wow AutoCAD was THE software then! Everyone was raving about it. If you wanted to be a relevant engineer, then the AutoCAD way was the way! That’s also accomplished too and even more. In my 5 year career as an engineer, I’ve learnt to use five other more advanced engineering software!)

  1. Go to MIT (Now that’s one dream that’s still sitting on my list untouched. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Back then, I wouldn’t hear of any other school! And not that I didn’t try. I wrote my GRE and scored 1200, Wrote my TOEFL, applied to the school blah, blah, I got rejected and I promptly dropped the idea. Fickle of me I know. But I’ll get round to it again. Soon I hope!)

  1. Get married to the most wonderful man in the world! ( ) (Yeah, I left the parenthesis like that in my list ‘cos I didn’t know who it was going to be. Sure enough, approximately 1 year after I made that list, I met him! Of course I didn’t know it was ‘him’ then. We got married 4 yeas after. Mwuaah! Kisses P.! He’s absolutely the most wonderful man in all the earth! My special gift from God! I love you loads dear!)

  1. Acquire my first piece of land before I’m 35. (hehehe! Did that when I was 26. And I’m in the process of purchasing another!)

  1. Write at least 10 books. (Hmmm, me and books! I’ve started writing at least 3books but I’ve never finished any of them! I don’t even think any of them will be part of the ones I’ll eventually write. Hehehe! If I could just settle down….)

  1. Raise godly children. I’d like to have 3. (I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I married a man who wanted 3 kids too! Right now, I’m thinking I’d like to have had all of them by the time I’m 36 that means I should have the first one in my 30th year. Amen to that!)

  1. Own a jeep of my own in addition to 2 other cars. (I bought my first car last year and guess what kind it was? Yeah! My very own SUV! I had already driven it for 6months before I ran into this list again. I had completely forgotten I’d ever written anything like that down!)

My list contained lots of other stuff about traveling the world, getting involved in missionary work, learning music, learning to cook all sorts etc. A lot of stuff on that list has already been accomplished and there are many more waiting to be. I’ll complete the list to 30 and I’ll start another!

Okay why I’m showing you guys my list? Well just in case the title of the post doesn’t say it loudly enough, it’s my 30th birthday today!! I am thirty years old!! THIRTY! I have lived thirty years on this earth? My, my! But I don’t feel thirty! Should I feel thirty? Is there any feeling attached to thirty? Lol!

I wrote that list of mine approximately 7 years ago. I was 23 then and see how full my life has been since then! It sure didn’t seem that way while the years passed…I had my heart broken a few months after that list, I gathered myself together and moved on, My dad became sick, his company crumbled like a pack of cards, my dad died, I served my nation for one year, matured a bit, watched momc try her hands at business, I met this great guy, I searched and searched for a job, I got a phone call inviting me for a test, I got another inviting me for an interview, I waited and waited, I got another call congratulating me on my appointment!, I learned the ropes of the job, I got my very first chance to leave the shores of this nation, matured some more, P. proposed to me, I changed jobs, got promotions, got more proficient in my skills, learned the ropes of investment, lost a good deal of my money, matured some more, got married….my life has been full!

My birthdays usually fell/falls around the Easter period so I never really got to celebrate them in school. Once in primary school though, I got the chance when my mother had the bright idea of having my birthday celebrated along with my younger sister’s during a school term. I was sooo excited; I couldn’t sleep the night before. There were cartons of biscuits and vip all over just waiting to be loaded onto the school bus the next day. My new dress was hanging in momc’s room. I didn’t have to wear my school uniform like all the other ‘ordinary’ kids. I felt so special and relished the furtive and sometimes outright questioning looks I got from the other kids. I wanted to scream for everyone to hear – “it’s my birthday!!!” I was treated specially throughout that day. Frankly that was the first time I got any special treatment from anyone other than my parents. I felt so important! My heart was almost bursting with new emotions I could barely contain let alone describe! I floated on a cloud all day.

I still had some of that cloud under my shoes when I got to school the next day but they quickly disappeared when my teacher looked right through me as I entered the class and other kids treated me normally. I was disappointed but I quickly adjusted and tucked the memory of the previous day somewhere in my heart under the file name –“Birthday special feelings”

The next time I got the chance to celebrate my birthday was my final year in secondary school. As usual, I only got the chance because all form 6 girls were in school for extension classes in preparation for SSC Exams.

The rules were simple. Spread the word that your birthday was coming soon. Arrange with one of the house mistresses to cook your rice at her house. On the D-day, dress your bed with a really nice bed sheet – preferably one we’ve never seen before and wait for the gifts to arrive! There was one kink however, be prepared to live with the ‘shame’ of not getting any gifts after dressing your bed and waiting all day. So don’t start if you’re not up to it!

A little digression here if you please.

Your popularity and value in school then was usually judged by the number of beds that were required to contain your gifts on your birthday! You would usually have a ‘committee of friends who watched out for junior gals bearing gifts in the general direction of your hostel apartment. They’d rush to the girl and ask who the gift was from. And then depending on the size or perceived value of the gift, they’ll start screaming and announcing the approaching gift! All the hype! Lol!

And then there were those who weren’t so popular. They didn’t dress their beds with the special bed sheet until they’d received at least a few cards and a few gifts. That way, they saved their face in case things didn’t ‘go very well’.

At the very bottom were the most pathetic of the lot. These ones usually bought themselves several gifts and several cards and arranged for them to be brought to them by junior gals in the name of other seniors. Some wouldn’t even go that far, they’d just dress their beds and proceed to bring out their ‘gifts’ from their lockers in full view of everyone! Hahaha! Na wa o!

Okay back to my narration. I followed the rules. I announced to everyone my birthday was approaching. Thankfully, everyone was aware of the fact that I’d never before celebrated my birthday in school the previous 5 years. So there was a level of excitement there. Thank God! If there was going to be any ‘shame’ it’d be a small one. The rice was cooked but I just didn’t have the nerve to dress my bed till the first few gifts met me on my undressed bed! I quickly dressed it and put on my birthday smile. Would you believe it? By the end of that day, I had two beds dressed and filled with gifts and cards! I was overwhelmed! Again I reached into the recesses of my heart and found that special birthday feeling. I relived it and added this one to it. I had no idea I had that many friends! I felt so blessed! What a way to bow out of secondary school! That was my 16th birthday.

Two years later, I had left school and JAMB was dealing with me. I enrolled in this jamb lesson and what do you know, my birthday came around again! I’d attended the lesson for about 7months and I’d made some new friends – note that most of my friends from secondary school were from all over the country. Some of them I’ve never met again since and even those in Lagos, I was yet to locate. It was my 18th birthday. My coming of age birthday. The age at which I could finally perm my hair! (Yup, my popc was mean! I could only braid my hair. My afro kinky hair was with me till I turned 18!) I’d announced to everyone it was my birthday. Everything was set. The rice, popcorn, juice, cake, prawn crackers etc. My 18th birthday was going to be the bomb! I’d gone to lesson earlier to remind everyone and I rushed back home to get it all ready. I wasn’t expecting anyone to come until after 2pm when lesson would have been over. By 4pm, I took a chair out to the gate just to see if anyone had lost their way. I was there till 6pm. Still no one showed up. The rice was getting cold, the popcorn and prawn crackers stale, the drinks warm. By 7pm, I took my chair inside, turned on the music and commanded the party to begin! I had the party alright. My able siblings, all 8 of them were in attendance. We ate and drank and danced. We had fun! When I went to bed that night, my pillow was wet with my tears. Tears of disappointment and rejection like I’d never known before. That night, I reached into that folder of ‘special birthday feelings’ and I deleted all the files there. Something not so nice replaced it.

The next day at the lessons, everyone was full of apologies and they brought me gifts up to one week after the fact. I smiled and told them it was okay. None of them knew that none of the others showed up and I preferred to leave it that way. I took the gifts, but they meant nothing to me. I don’t even remember now what they were. Sigh!

Since that 18th birthday, up until now, I have NEVER called anyone to my birthday. I had no idea it affected me so badly but I just don’t do parties! The closest I came to organizing one was my wedding and it was a relief to see so many people there! Funny right? That relief was real still.

What I have done since and this only after I started working, was to order a nice cake and drinks. Cut the cake without much ado. Maybe a few pictures. I’d share the cake and drinks with my colleagues at the office and that’s it. Pretty convenient if you ask me. That way, I take the ‘party’ to them and I don’t give anyone the chance to ‘disappoint’ me.

Maybe I need therapy. No?

I’ll throw a party. I will! Maybe when I’m forty. But before then, I have this secret dream I hope will come true sooner than later.

In my dream, my birthday approaches just like it always does every year. Nothing special is attached to it. A friend (could be anyone at all), somehow manages to get me out of the house. Or better still, lures me out for an innocuous meeting at some restaurant. Something. Anything that doesn’t seem suspicious. As I approach the rendezvous point however, I see these live billboards (you know those types that show motion pictures) with my face on it. I do a double take as my eyes slowly become saucers and my mouth is finding it difficult to stay closed.

Picture after picture pops up and the words “HAPPY BIRTHDAY ENKAY!” splash across the screen. I’m overwhelmed, my heart is beating really fast but I keep walking towards the entrance.

Two well dressed gentlemen approach me just as I reach the entrance.


I’m surprised and I nod “yes?”

“Please come with us”

Now my curiosity is piqued. I’m looking around to see if I can find any familiar face. There is none.

The men lead me to an entrance by the side of the building.

The ambience instantly relaxes me and I only walk a few steps before I realize they are playing one of my favorite songs!

I’m looking into the faces of the young men then for some explanation but they wear blank expressions.

They point to a door and then ask me to go inside. There is a lady there I am sure I’ve never met before but she goes ‘Enkay! You are welcome.”

I smile and start to ask a question but she smoothly brushes that aside. Strangely I feel relaxed. She proceeds to bring out from the closet the most gorgeous dress I have ever seen. I knew instantly it was for me!

Under one hour, she has done a complete makeover on me. She worked expertly on my hair, face, nails etc. I feel like Miss World!

When I open the door, I can see the shock on the faces of the two men. Apparently, they’d stood outside the door the whole time. Keeping guard? Maybe. They lead me through a narrow passage way into what seems like a really large room. It is so badly lit that I can only see a few feet in front of me. Suddenly they are no longer by my side. I reach out and call out “Hello!” No one answers. There’s no sound in the room but I can almost swear I’m not a lone in there.

Suddenly, the lights come on and I am momentarily blinded because they are so bright. And that’s when they all scream – HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

Oh! My God!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The whole place is filled with everyone I have ever known all my life! It is a surprise banquet held in my honour complete with a live band! I start crying. They are tears of joy. It’s unbelievable. All this, just for me?.............

The dream hasn’t ended o! But y’all catch my drift right?

Now see how long this post has become!!

I’d just like to thank my Father in heaven for these wonderful fulfilling years he has given me. They have been 30years of beauty that only He could have given me.

Thank you Father!

I love you so much!

Blogville, please dance with me will you? It’s my special dance. My jubilee dance. My dance of thanksgiving. My dance of gratitude.

I look ahead with hope and great expectations. The years ahead are definitely going to be greater than the ones I have seen. This, after all, is the true meaning of my name – NKIRUKA.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Ten Things Tuesday (04)

You know how it is when you wake up one morning and all you can see are the things that are yet to be?
You look and think, where has all the time gone? And why does it look like I'm still standing where I've been standing for a long time?
I've been on this project for years, why doesn't it look as if it's about to be completed? I thought that by now, this and this should have come through so why does it look like I'm still waiting for them to happen? On and on.
That was how I felt this morning.
Usually it starts with one thought and then another and another....suddenly it takes over your mind and it changes your mood. Your face becomes sullen and downcast....woah! Woah! Wait a minute! This isn't right! I'm letting the wrong thoughts take over. No way am I going to let myself have a bad day today. As a matter of fact, I'm deliberately going to do my Thankful post today. If only to remind myself the good things I have in my life right now. I'm a work in progress and just because it looks as if things are still it don't mean nuthing's happening!

So I snapped out of the mood that threatened to swallow me whole and I began to Worship God. I sang and I prayed until those dark clouds rolled away. I have so much to be grateful for!

  • I am grateful for P. who just returned to his base. We were together for a total of 3months at a stretch! We grew together in leaps in those 3 months and we crossed major milestones on our relationship learning curve.
  • I learned in those 3 months the 'magic' of deferring to my husband and reaping a bountiful harvest. Oh no! I didn't learn it the easy way. Talk about disagreeing to agree. I'm grateful for the opportunities I get to learn more how to be the kind of Wife God wants me to be.
  • Another expectant mother from my list has given birth! Grateful to God for the safe delivery. Mother and child are doing well!
  • My younger sister has just been added to that list. Gave Momc enough reason to sigh in relief. I'm ecstatic!
  • Another younger sista'll be getting married soon. The introductions took place a few weeks ago and it all went well.
  • I'd been suffering from severe pain in the pelvic area for a while with cramps that drugs couldn't fix. I attended a healing meeting and now I'm completely healed. Praise God! It's great to have a healthy body. I'm truly grateful.
  • I'm thankful for God's provision for P and I. I sure could use a bit more money right now but amazingly God still supplies our needs! He is Jehovah Jireh!
  • I am grateful for the Rhema I received a few days ago. I've been rolling it around in my head and analyzing it but I'm glad I stopped that. If God says this is this then I'm not going to question it. Just like Mary, I shout at the top of my lungs "Be it unto me according to your Word oh, Lord! I receive the fulfillment of Your Word to me!
  • I'm thankful for my cell group in church. My world is being expanded to include other people and I think it's really beautiful. I'm being blessed every week!
  • Regardless of how many challenges I face, I'm still grateful to be alive! My future is bright and all I need to get there has been made available already!
Do you have anything to be grateful for?