Damage Control #9

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Read Previous episode here

***

Leslie propped the pillows behind Ojiugo, trying to ensure her maximum comfort in bed. The sheets had been changed to bright shades of pink and purple. The room itself had undergone some transformation. Ojiugo had remarked a few times about how dull the place looked so just before she came home, Leslie spent hours redecorating. He changed the position of her bed to give a better view of the window and on the walls, he put up colourful wallpapers, landscape paintings and some of Ojiugo’s favourite quotes. For all his hardwork, he had been rewarded with eyes that shone bright and a warm smile the second she walked into the room.

“You transformed it!” she had said with child-like delight and Leslie found pure contentment in that moment.

“Can I get you anything?” Leslie asked once he stepped away from the bed.

“Some water please.”

Leslie stepped out of the room and returned momentarily with a bottle and glass in tow. He placed the bottle on the table by her side, right next to a monochrome picture of them sitting side by side on an extensive patch of grass. Ojiugo took the glass he offered with a smile and sipped from. As she set it down, she noticed the picture and she smiled.

“I liked it there you know. I know I gave you such a hard time on that trip, but I really liked it.”

Leslie smiled in return.

“True confessions. I wonder how many more of those I’m going to get in the coming weeks.”

Ojiugo grinned widely.

“Look who’s making jokes now.”

Leslie swallowed hard and turned away.

“I know I don’t have that much time left Leslie. Thank you for not making it tough.”

With his back still to her, Leslie shrugged and focused on smoothening the sheets at the end of the bed.

“Have you heard anything about Belema yet? Did you ask Ikem about her?”

Leslie sighed and he turned to face Ojiugo again.

“No darling. I didn’t. And you must stop worrying about her too. It’s how we landed in the hospital again. Stop doing this to yourself please. It’s hurting me too.”

Ojiugo’s face fell.

“Sorry. I’m just wondering how she’s doing and something about her has me really drawn to her. I can’t get her out of my mind.”

Leslie smiled mischievously.

“I’m getting replaced by a woman. So that’s how you choose to swing in the latter days?”

Ojiugo laughed softly but soon began to cough. Leslie’s face was overcome with concern as she held her head tenderly.

“Sorry love.”

Ojiugo nodded and once the coughing subsided, she was wearing a smile.

“Made wants to come by and spend next weekend with us. That woman will be the death of me Les. And she wouldn’t let me say no.”

Leslie snorted in an attempt to keep from laughing but failed.

“One weekend honey. Let her come and stay. Please.”

Ojiugo turned away. Made was her best friend. When Ojiugo lost both parents in a plane crash at 6, Made’s parents took her in and the two girls grew together like sisters. Work kept them in different cities but they stayed in touch often. Made cried her eyes out when she found out about the cancer. Ojiugo kept it hidden from her for over two months and when Leslie got tired of the cover up, he told Made the truth. As much as Made was always busy with work, she created time the very weekend Leslie told her and flew down from Calabar. Made was such a worrier. And that was the major problem Ojiugo had with her. It was why Ojiugo kept the issue with her health a secret and it was also why she didn’t want Made coming over now. Because Made would worry and fuss and probably burst into tears at random occasions without warning. It would stress her and she did not feel up to it.

“If you say so. But she’ll be your headache when she starts with the drama. I love her but even you know she can be more than a handful.”

Leslie smiled and rubbed her hands.

“I’ll take care of her darling. Not to worry.”

Ojiugo smiled and shut her eyes, falling asleep almost immediately. Leslie observed her for a few minutes before getting up and leaving the room. Once outside, he took in a really deep breath then exhaled slowly. Just before leaving the hospital, he had another talk with Dr. Ikem who encouraged him some more to give Ojiugo as much support as he could emotionally. He spent a few hours surfing the internet, trying to look for clues on how to deal with a loved one who was nearing their death and he did find some helpful information. It was why he easily flowed with Ojiugo’s jokes today. Usually, whenever she attempted to make some light hearted comment on the topic of her limited time left, Leslie would take it to heart and get in a mood. But he was gradually understanding and accepting that it was part of her coping mechanism, a way to find her peace and he was not going to stand in the way of that anymore.

He also knew Made would be better off not coming by the house but he had no means of keeping her away. She loved Ojiugo too much to not visit her in her final days. He sighed as he contemplated what to do in the one week before she turned up then he suddenly remembered Ojiugo’s comments about Belema. He decided he would try the house one more time and probably set up camp there till someone came to tell him where Belema was. But that would have to be tomorrow. He was tired and needed to get some rest himself.

He went into the kitchen and took some beans from the freezer to microwave. Ojiugo would likely be asleep for a long time. He would use the opportunity to get some shut eye before he had to cater to her again.

***

Mrs. Ochoga looked like she had just been hit by a truck. Belema would had laughed had the circumstances been different but she knew there was no room for humour. She had come to the end of herself. She was tired of bottling things up. She needed her mother and as she sat there holding her gaze and waiting with bated breath, Belema hoped that her mother would prove an ally and come through as a mother would, just this once.

“Is it Seun’s?” Mrs. Ochoga finally asked

“Yes. But I can’t tell him and I can’t keep it either.” Belema said.

Mrs. Ochoga had no words. She stood up and walked to the other end of the room and folded her arms, looking out the window.

“Mum?”

“Yes?”

“Say something please.”

“Like what? That my first daughter keeps trying to embarrass and disgrace me?”

Belema gasped in shock. Here she was, having just opened up to her mother and the first reaction she got was fear for her mother’s image as opposed to concern for her wellbeing. She cautiously dropped the wine bottle she had been holding and just as quickly as she had opened her heart, she clamped it shut again.

“Well, I’m sorry all I have ever done is embarrass and disgrace you. I’ll take care of this myself. Don’t worry.”

“And what is that supposed to mean?” Mrs. Ochoga snapped. Even in her anger, she remained passive. She could not bring herself to yell or throw things around the house, even though that was exactly how she felt on the inside.

“First you try to commit suicide, and now you want to commit murder?”

“I never said anything about murder mum.”

“Really? So abortion is what? Life transformation?”

“I didn’t say anything about an abortion either and would you just stop jumping to conclusions? I hate it! This is exactly why I gave up the first time. You don’t listen. You don’t care and you don’t try to protect your children. It’s always about you and what you want or how you feel or what people would think of you. Not a single thought ever goes to your children. But that’s fine. I don’t even care anymore.”

Belema rose and walked out of the room, leaving her mother standing by the window with tears in her eyes.  As she walked to her room, she heard Nengi and Olanna laughing in Nengi’s room and another wave of sadness hit her. She greatly desired a bond with some friend similar to what Nengi had with Olanna but no one in her life came close. The gulf between Seun and herself was widening daily and there was nothing to do about it. She got into her room and slammed the door shut but seconds later, someone was knocking on it.

Belema lay in bed and refused to acknowledge the person. She was certain it was her mother coming either with some other weak apology or to further berate her but she was not in the mood. The knocking soon stopped and the door opened cautiously and Olanna peaked through it with Nengi bearing over her. Belema looked at them and was oddly reminded of cartoon scenes with mice peering to be sure a cat wasn’t about and the image made her laugh. Olanna then opened the door fully and the two girls poured into the room.

“Sorry, we weren’t sure if you were here” Olanna began to say.

“Stop lying jor” Nengi interrupted.

“We heard you come in and slam your door like you were trying to cause an artificial earthquake. Are you okay?”

Belema smiled inspite of herself.

“Yeah. Your mother wears me out, no matter how hard I try. But you already know this.”

Nengi grinned.

“Well try this on for size, I want to put Olanna up for sale for the exact same reason.”

Belema laughed and looked from one girl to the other. Olanna had a twinkle in her eyes and shrugged when Nengi made the remark. It was obvious the girl had no intentions of going anywhere.

“Your sister is being a complete learner. One guy likes her and is making all these romantic gestures but she is forming for him as if good guys are not scarce in the market. Meanwhile Valentine is around the corner.”

Nengi jumped into Belema’s bed, picked up a nail file that was lying on it and began filing her nails.

“Well, since he is so good, why don’t you have him?” she retorted.

“Because he wants you, not me.”

Belema smiled warmly and watched on in silence as they continued their banter. But in her heart, she was grateful for her baby sister who she knew had come to her room to provide comfort without knowing the details of what had her upset. And Nengi never bothered questioning her or pushing to share more than she was willing to per time.

She soon noticed that Nengi had launched into a monologue while Olanna busied herself rummaging through Belema’s book collection.

“You only have romance here.” Olanna remarked suddenly.

“Huh?” Belema looked up.

“Your books. Is it only romance you read?”

Belema smiled.

“Yeah. Those are the ones that interest me the most.”

“Hmmn. Okay. But I think you could try other stuff sha. Maybe you’d find some other thing that appeals to you.”

“Yeah? Like?”

“Non-fiction? Biographies? Self-help books?”

Belema made a face

“Ugh. I hate those.”

Nengi and Olanna burst out laughing.

“I swear. Nengi knows. Bunch of self-absorbed people telling you how they think you should live your life. No thanks. I’ll pass.”

“Save your breath Ola. I have tried and failed with my sister on that one. She won’t budge.”

Belema smacked Nengi with a pillow and the latter laughed some more.

“I get persecuted for the truth. But issokay. Jesus was killed for the truth.”

Belema shook her head and got off the bed.

“Why don’t you bring me one of your most favourite non-fictions books and I’ll give it a shot.” She said to Olanna.

Olanna smiled brightly.

“Sure thing. Tomorrow.”

“I need some fresh air. You guys fancy some pizza? Maybe we can go to Dominos?”

“Yessssss!” Nengi yelled excitedly, jumping off the bed in seconds.

“Food will kill you.” Olanna teased.

“Then I shall die happy.”

Belema smiled and shook her head. So maybe she did not have a friendship like Nengi had with Olanna but she at least had both girls and occasionally shared in their friendship. In the interim, that would most certainly do.

***

Mrs. Ochoga woke up the following morning with a nagging pain in her chest. No matter how hard she tried with Belema, she always ended up failing. They did not have the special bond most mothers had with their first daughters and it made her sad to know that Belema thought her selfish and uncaring. She wondered what she could have done differently. Belema was 30 and responsible for her choices but there was no doubt that those choices would always reflect on her one way or another. And why did Belema not want to tell Seun?

Someone knocked softly on the door and she turned on her side and invited them in. The door opened and Nengi walked with a smile as radiant as the sun. The girl was always so bubbly and energetic.

“Hi mum!” Nengi called out cheerily.

“Hello dear.”

Nengi walked to the bedroom windows and pulled the drapes apart. Sunlight came pouring in, forcing Mrs. Ochoga to shield her eyes.

“I didn’t see you last night and you haven’t gotten out of bed this morning. Was the fight with Belema that bad?”

“What did she tell you?” Mrs. Ochoga asked tiredly.

“I haven’t asked her yet. At least not directly. If she didn’t tell me with all the hints I was dropping, I take it she’s not ready. So I’m here asking you instead.”

“Go and ask your sister Nengi, because I am tired.”

Nengi went and sat beside her mother in bed.

“Mum, she’s still recovering and I think we should handle her with care. I don’t want us to do anything that will send her back to that depressed place where she tried to commit suicide.”

“Nengi, your sister is an adult and I will not walk on egg shells around her just because I’m afraid of doing something that will make her want to kill herself again. So somehow that’s my fault too?”

“I didn’t say that mum.”

“Then what are you saying? Because Belema blamed me yesterday for her suicide attempt.”

Nengi sighed

“Mummy, I’m very certain she didn’t mean that. Maybe she just got really upset over whatever it was you guys were fighting over and she said that because she was angry. I don’t think she meant it at all.”

Mrs. Ochoga remained adamant.

“Just tell your sister not to do anything stupid again. I need some peace and sanity in my life.”

She got out of bed immediately and went into her bathroom. Nengi sighed again. Who had cursed her with this unending charade that was her family?

She stood up and walked out of her mother’s room. She honestly did not want to know what the fight was about. She just wanted Belema to be happy again and for her home front to not be chaotic. But that was apparently too much to ask for.

As she walked into the living room, she was surprised to see a tall guy in glasses sitting with Belema. Something about the young man was vaguely familiar but Nengi could not place it. They both looked up as she walked in.

“Hello,” Leslie said with a smile

“Hi.” Nengi returned the smile.

“Nengi, this is Leslie. He’s the boyfriend to the woman who rescued me on New Year’s Day.”

Nengi’s smile warmed up some more.

“Oh hi, it’s nice to see you again. But why are you here so early in the morning though. Everything okay?”

Belema stared at Nengi in shock and tried to make subtle faces to keep her from making further tactless comments and Leslie laughed.

“We were just concerned. Actually, Ojiugo is. She hadn’t heard from your sister here in weeks and each time we came here, we never met anyone at home so I promised her I would come and check one more time, really early, in the hope that I would at least find someone here.”

“Ohh. Right. Well, it’s nice to see you again.”

“Same here.” Leslie responded warmly.

To Belema, Nengi said

“Belz, can we talk later? I’ll be in my room.”

“Sure.” Belema responded and Nengi walked out.

Belema turned her attention back to Leslie.

“Sorry, you were saying?”

“Ojiugo would like to see you again. She’s actually been worried about you.”

“Well, that’s sweet of her but I don’t think seeing her again would be necessary. I mean, you could just tell her I’m fine and won’t be taking another dive anytime soon. My family has been supportive and I’m on medication.” Belema said politely.

Leslie’s tone was urgent when he responded.

“But you need to. I’m begging. It would mean so much to her.”

Belema shook her head.

“I’m sorry. And I know this might come off as rude, but I don’t think we have any further business with each other. She rescued me, I’m grateful for that. But I don’t want to force a friendship. It’ll be awkward for me. I’m really trying to forget what happened that day and I don’t see how visiting her will help.”

Belema stood up to indicate she was done with the conversation but Leslie remained seated. He took off his glasses and looked her straight in the eye.

“Ojiugo is dying. She’s got cancer. The least you can do for the woman who saved your life is grant her dying wish.”

Belema gasped and promptly sat down again.

“Jesus! I had no idea.”

“Of course you didn’t. But please, this is important. She got so worried about your disappearance, she landed in the hospital again a few days ago. She’s got a limited amount of time left Belema. Please. One dinner. Come by the house, talk to her, listen to her talk. A couple of hours at most.”

“Yeah, sure. Sure.”

She stretched out a hand and took Leslie’s.

“I’m so sorry. Honestly. This must be so hard for you.”

Leslie shrugged and pulled his hand back then put on his glasses.

“I’m alright. I’m crazy in love with her and will do any and everything possible to ensure she transits peacefully. There’s nothing else to be done.”

“What kind of cancer please? If you don’t mind my asking that is.”

“A tumour in her brain. We discovered it late and surgery was not an option.”

Belema swallowed hard and fought the tears that were pooling in her eyes.

“When do you want me to come? I can come with you right away if you like.”

Leslie shook his head.

“No. Tomorrow night. Valentine’s Day. If you don’t already have plans. She can’t leave the house so I’m making dinner and having one or two of our mutual friends over. She needs as much cheerful company as she can get.”

“Alright then. Send me the address and time please. I’ll be there.”

Leslie nodded and stood up.

“Thank you for your time.”

He walked out of the house and into his car, all the while thinking how he did not like Belema. He thought she was a selfish ingrate. He had not wanted the cancer to be a bargaining chip. He had hoped that she would be willing to come see Ojiugo just at the mention of her worry and concern but her reluctance had annoyed him. But he reminded himself that this was for Ojiugo and the mild irritation Belema brought him was a small price to pay for the peace of mind of the woman he loved.

 

Hunter’s Game Season 2: Coming Soon

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Hi guys!

It feels so great to be back here and my fingers are giddy with excitement as I type this.

I have been away but not without reason.

As usual, been working on multiple projects at a time but also on season 2 of this amazing series we enjoyed early in the year.

From October 1st 2016, we begin the second season of Hunter’s Game.

Some old characters, some new ones and a whole lot more drama and intrigue.

So tell a friend to tell a friend.

Ijeoma, Uzo and Leela will be back to you every Saturday at noon from October 1st. Great way to enjoy the independence eh?

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Thou Shall Not Live: A Nigerian Woman’s Guide to Avoiding Rape

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Sometime last year, I was wrapping up work for the day when an ex hit me up to check in and ask what I would be doing after work. I said I was going to see a male friend who lived close to my office. Said friend had invited me over to come play some game online that he thought I would enjoy. When I said that to the ex, he expressed a measure of discomfort in a manner that annoyed me. What was his business if I was hanging out with some other guy? Weren’t we over?

I did go to the friend’s house. We played the game and it was alright. But I didn’t speak to the ex for a whole month. Mind your business let me mind mine. When we finally spoke a month later, he explained that his reservations that night stemmed from having heard so many rape cases and I finally understood his discomfort. It was not jealousy like I had thought. It was concern.

Why is this story relevant?

This morning, I stumbled on a fictional piece written 3 years ago for BellaNaija by Arit Okpo and the comments had me shrinking into a tiny corner of myself and cringing badly. With all due respect, a fair number of Nigerians are absolute dimwits. I said it. Feel free to vex.

You can read the story here then read the comments and hopefully, you’ll understand why I was mad.

  1. It hurt badly to read a lot of comments where people said “I can relate to this. It happened to me.” Those comments crushed me.
  2. It pissed me the hell off to read a lot of comments where people said “It was her fault.” “She said no but she was asking him to use a condom. Why would she say that if she didn’t want it?” “Why was she visiting him anyway?”

I’m certain by now that you have deduced that the subject at hand is rape. The story on BellaNaija speaks of a fictional character who pays a visit to a guy she is attracted to on her way to the market and gets raped by him. The violation of trust makes her protests weak and the knowledge of the limited options available in that situation results in a plea for the molester to use a condom.

In typical fashion, ill-mannered and clueless Nigerians displayed their lack of empathy or common sense in the comment section, spewing thoughts that could only have come from brains that can be best described as badly decomposed. Or most likely, half-eaten by zombies. Really.

It brought to mind the incident with the Ex last year and it left me wondering just what is expected of women in Nigeria. If there were to be a book for women hoping to survive in Nigeria, it would probably read “Thou Shall not Live: A Nigerian Woman’s Guide to Avoiding Rape.” The 10 commandments contained therein would likely include.

  1. Do not make male friends. You can’t trust them so don’t be friends with them at all.
  2. Do not talk to men. Of course we have already eliminated friends. So father, uncle, brother, pastor, colleague, stranger… because anything you say or do can and will be inferred as an invitation to rape.
  3. Do not wear anything fashionable. As a matter of fact, please, cover yourself from head to toe. In typical, Islamic religion fashion, wear a Hijab and a Burqa because as proven by Pakistani women who dress in like manner, it is the most fool-proof means of avoiding rape. Tested and proven.
  4. Do not grow up. Whatever you do, do not grow past a few months after birth. Because whether 9 or 19 or 30, you’re automatically eligible for rape.
  5. Do not leave your house. I mean, this absolutely brilliant idea was captured in less than 140 characters by a nice chap who cares deeply about women and knows the solution to all their problems. He tweeted “…you as a woman can avoid rape by sitting in your house.” Don’t say you weren’t told.
  6. Do not have any form of interaction with men. I mean, in case you missed out 5 above, and you had to go buy bread across the street, make sure you flee in the opposite direction if you sight a man. As you well know, men are raging *insert name of wild animal as you please here* who have no self-control. So avoid any form of interaction with them.
  7. Do not go to the church or any other religious gathering for any reason. Do not also interact with the Man of God. Because we do not want you to tempt the religious leader who might feel inclined to raise your skirts and take you to another level of grace.
  8. Should you somehow manage to get married after avoiding men all your life, ensure that you offer your body, a willing sacrifice to your husband whenever, wherever and however he requests it. Ensure that you never turn him down even if you are collapsing from exhaustion. He owns you and your body, having paid your bride-price. So make sure you give it to him, because if he ever has to take it forcefully, you cannot call it rape.
  9. Having gotten married and made babies of the male and female species, ensure that you say absolutely nothing to your son about respect and self-control. He is a man after all and can do exactly as he pleases. But to your daughter instill fear, timidity and shame. Pass this book down to her and let her know that if she fails to comply with all these rules, she is a disgrace to womanhood and entirely responsible for whatever happens to her.
  10. Above all, do not get raped. Even after taking all the steps listed above, do well to ensure that you do not get raped. Because I mean, if you followed these steps and you still get raped, then it must be your fault. And if you do get raped, do not talk about it. Because we will always remind you of how it is your fault.

I sincerely look and pray to a time when Nigerians will have brains that work and hearts that empathize. But until then dear ladies, thou shalt not live so as to avoid getting raped.

Image credit: indianexpress.com

 

Ps. Kindly hit the share button. Let’s help our women now, shall we?

 

 

Of Birds and Butterfly Companions…

So I was seated calmly at the office yesterday when I got this newsletter in my mail that almost caused me to fall out of my seat. And here’s why.
I was reading something that appeared to be written about my life. Lol.
But guess what? It had nothing to do with me. Well, not expressly. It was just a writer putting words to thoughts that had somehow been at the back of my mind for ages.

Without further ado, let me share what it is that I read. It was written by Kiah and she gave me her permission to share. It is captioned “Loving Jenny”

***

Have you ever loved a Jenny? Have you ever been a Forrest?

I was watching Forrest Gump the other day. It was a sultry afternoon in Chicago and I was hanging out with Ore who is 9 doing on 19. I haven’t seen her in 3 years. 3 years ago she was 6 and hanging out with her was way cooler back then. Back then, I was her favorite coolest aunty. Now I am just there. 😦

‘Can we watch something else?’ She says to me just as Forrest punches another deadbeat boyfriend of Jenny.
‘Hush child! There is so much to learn from this…’ I tell her. She rolls her eyes as any typical American child would. I don’t blame her either. If I was her age and used to watching Arianna Grande be foolish, how can a bumbling Tom Hanks ever be entertaining?

I saw Forrest Gump when I was 12 or so. It was on DSTV. I was royally pissed. No, not at Forrest. Everyone loves Forrest. I was pissed at Jenny. How do you have a good man and not hold onto him tighter than the way our grandmothers use ‘oja’  to tie us to their backs?

As the years have passed and I have become wiser and my heart has experienced its’ own pitfalls, I have become kinder to Jenny. The chick had the chips stacked against her from the get-go. How was she going to be able to recognize gold for what it was worth when all she had known was dirt?

Jennies, Juwons are not bad people. In fact they are some of the best people. Just don’t fall in love with them. You would be doing yourself a gross disfavor.

Warsan Shire who is impossibly beautiful says ‘I let you leave, I need someone who knows how to stay.’ Jennies don’t know how to stay. Even when it seems like the cock has come home to roost, they will leave you eventually-just look at how the foolish girl died and left Forrest I and Forrest II all alone in this world.

We all need someone who knows how to stay. We all need a Forrest in our lives, trees that stand come what may, unbending in their devotion and love. But you know what we need more than we need a Forest, we need to become a Forrest ourselves

***

So when I went to read the story that had been pinged back in that post, I came across a sentence that I have stamped on my heart just so I never forget.

Birds and butterflies are poor companions. They need your admiration but not your love”

There are certain people you can crush on and admire from afar, but must never date because they are not keepers. Nothing you ever do for these ones will make them stay. They will tell you even as they twist the knife in your heart “it’s not you, it’s me.” and they’ll be right but it will not ease the hurt. If anything, it will make it worse.

So here’s to admiring the Jennys and Juwons from afar. Here’s to finding Forrests that will fill that void and stay strong and unmovable through all the seasons 🙂

 

Reframing and Shifting Perspectives

A couple of weeks ago, I auditioned for a Ted Talk under this theme and I spoke on being “Imprisoned in the Stereotype.”

While I didn’t get selected after the auditions, I got fantastic feedback and thoroughly enjoyed myself. It was interesting listening to young people like myself share their perspectives on different social issues. I learnt a lot.

Over the past couple of weeks however, I have not been able to get that theme out of my head. I have made certain observations that were only made possible because the theme would not leave me alone so I have decided to put some of my thoughts down in writing.

If there is one perspective of life that young people need to rid themselves of, it is this idea of “I am special, I am different and so I will (easily) be able to achieve all my dreams. No, you are not special, you are not different and your path to success will not be a walk in the park. There. I said it. Whether or not you accept this truth will not stop it from being true.

In the last quarter of 2016, I read an article titled “Why People Under 35 are so unhappy” and that was a major eye opener for me. The article was extensively written on how our generation is groomed and raised into believing that they are each special as individuals. In the words of the writer, kids were told “that they could be whatever they wanted to be, instilling the special protagonist identity deep within their psyche.”

It’s like being in a movie and regarding yourself as the lead character. The protagonist who never dies. In Action movies, he takes out the bad guy and gets the girl. In Rom Coms, his/her life is positively transformed forever and they claim the love of their lives and ride off happily into the sunset where they both live together happily ever after.

Please read the article. I won’t re-write it here. Lol.

I read that article and it made me realize that life will not always happen for you as you want it. I don’t care what anyone tells you. It simply won’t. You will have instances where you work your butt off and it won’t pay off. You will apply to jobs which you assume you are qualified for and you will not get them. You will be nominated for awards which you are certain you deserve and they would be given to someone else. Don’t believe me? Consider what happened at the Headies awards with the “Next Rated Award.”

Another point I noted from the article is how we are far too easily moved by what we see. Ever heard of the term “Packaging”? Packaging is one reason I try to not pay so much attention to social media. People come and flaunt well-packaged images of perfection that leave you dying on the inside because of course, you are special and simply cannot imagine for the life of you why your own life is not as glamorous or as put together as your old friend from school.

I’ll give a few personal examples. Two years ago, my ex and I ended things and I was in a really bad place. One night, I cried my eyes out and the following morning, my eyes were puffy and swollen. So for the first time in forever, I put some makeup on to disguise the “mourning widow’s look” I had unwittingly adopted. Only for a colleague to remark about how I was “glowing.” I smiled and made to walk away when she said “I wish I could go through whatever it is you are going through right now mehn. You’re really glowing.”

I kid you not. Those were her exact choice of words. I was in shock. My response to her? “Trust me, you don’t want that.” That experience still amuses me whenever I think of it.

People will nearly always project what they want you to see on social media. Why? Because we only want the world to see that perfect version of us. Not the version that suffers depression, or the version that doesn’t have their entire shit together, or the version that is faced with difficult choices and filled with doubts and uncertainty or even the version that is battling with guilt and regret for choices made. It’s why we pout and use filters and share hashtags that are sometimes borderline annoying.

Before the voltrons emerge, I am not saying that everything posted on social media is packaged. Sometimes, people are truly happy and they share. Or like one of my dear friends, they are bold enough to come on social media to say “I’m going through a bad place right now. Holla if you are too. You’re not alone.” My focus is on how people inadvertently react to these posts without knowing the entire story behind them.

One of my very good friends here shared with me how she met a group of people who spent most of their time travelling. They had all these stamps of places they had been to and made it sound all so glamorous and enviable to her. She had been going through a difficult time when she met them so the idea of the happiness and bliss that they expressed was very appealing. So she left home and decided to travel with them and what she discovered was far from the bliss and excitement they had painted to her.

So the long and short of my sermon on the mount is this. It’s okay to dream big and be ambitious but clothe your expectations in reason. Attempt to dare the impossible but keep in one corner of your mind that there are a good number of people out there doing the same thing and that it will require a whole lot more than ordinary effort to be outstanding. Especially for the creatives. Do you know how many comedians, writers, singers, dancers, painters, photographers, exist in the world? Or even in your immediate environment?

So when you encounter rejection after rejection and your confidence keeps taking hit after hit, remind yourself that you are not special. And that there is a process you must go through to solidify and strengthen your person. The ones who are truly special are the ones who realize that they are not special but do not quit on themselves after a few unpleasant experiences.

Another problem with being fed the “you are special narrative” is that is breeds in us an unhealthy sense of entitlement that leaves us with very fragile egos. So we are unable to handle rejections and disappointments. Rather than work harder or try to improve, we tell ourselves “they don’t know my value. It’s their loss and not mine.” Story. While this may sometimes be true, we need to not overestimate our relevance or our abilities. This is really crucial. There is a process. Go through it.

We often forget that most of the people the world regards and celebrates as successful went through a making process. Sometimes we want to skip that process and jump to the happily ever after. It’s not magic please.

So what has this all got to do with reframing and shifting perspectives?

  1. Stop thinking you are special. You are not. Every other person thinks they are too.
  2. Stop letting yourself be overwhelmed by envy or jealousy resulting from what you see on social media. Be wary of packaging. Take every image of perfection on social media with a grain of salt.
  3. Go through your process. Do not expect to magically fly through it. Nothing of value ever materializes overnight.

#ShitWithSense Campaign Competition

Hi guys!

So I’m here wondering if people still read my blog. I’ve been gone for too long. *facepalm* But I’ll be back, I promise. I’m just doing so much right now. Way too much.

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Anyways, I came out of my cave to share something with you guys.

Bedouin, a Lagos-based Creative Media Firm is on a mission to put an end to open defecation in Nigeria through its “Shit With Sense” campaign.

Open defecation puts people at risk of contracting quite a number of diseases, which often lead to deaths. For instance, in 2013, over 340,000 children under 5 years died from diarrhoea resulting from lack of safe water, sanitation and basic hygiene.

The aim is to improve the toilet and sanitary conditions of the average Nigerian.

You can join in this campaign by spreading the word as much as you can, as far as you can and as fast as you can, for a worthy cause. But there’s also something in it for you as well. You can stand a chance to win some gift items by taking the following steps:

  1. Follow @bedouinnation and @shitwithsense on twitter or @swslagos and @bedouinnation  on Instagram.
  2. Write a funny short story in your notes on your phone that you think will help pass the message #ShitWithSense. Or create a funny short video with the message.
  3. Take a screenshot(s) and tweet the photo(s) at both handles with the hashtag #ShitWithSense or upload the video on Instagram with the hashtag #ShitWithSense and tag us as well.
  4. Get your friends to retweet you on twitter or like your video on instagram
  5. The funniest story and video with the highest retweets/reposts and likes gets a prize.

From Thursday, 19th November, World Toilet Day to Thursday, 3rd December, this contest will be on. You’ve got two weeks to gather your votes and the winners will be announced on Friday the 4th of December. So hurry! Start writing, start recording and start sharing. Don’t forget to include the hashtag #ShitWithSense and be sure to keep tweeting at us! Good luck!

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So get on it guys. Help spread the word about toilet sanitary conditions and win some prizes along the way.

And please bear with me until I return to the blog.

Adios!

What’s Good for the Goose…

The subject I am about to write on is one I have never raised on this platform before. But I think we need to start having more and more of these conversations if we are to experience change. You do not have to agree with the points raised here. This is me expressing myself on my blog. So let no man or woman come and call me an angry feminist when you’re done reading.
Hehe. I sound angry abi? Lol. I am not. Let’s go on please.
Sometime last week, I found myself having a certain conversation with one of our clients. The subject was one I usually like to stay away from because people are mostly unreasonable. But for some reason we were talking about it and at some point, I had to say “I’m sorry sir, but I won’t engage you on this anymore. I’d rather we discontinue this conversation.” He wanted to keep talking but I politely changed the topic and we moved on to work.
Now what were we talking about?
Let’s call him Dr. T
Dr T. : So Oge, if a man cheated on you and he came back and said he was sorry, would you forgive him? Like he tells you he slept with the woman five times but he comes crying and begging, what will you do?
Me: I will walk away.
Dr. T. : Really? What if you are married with children? Wouldn’t you stay for the kids?
Me: (polite smile in place) What if I was the one that cheated?
Dr. T. : (Surprised face) No o, Oge. Traditionally a woman is not expected to cheat. The man can cheat o but not the woman.
At this point, my jaw dropped to the ground. I pursued the conversation a little further and what this man essentially tried to do was convince me that society expects a man to cheat so I should not only anticipate it, but I should be forgiving when it happened. I hear things like this often and it makes me cringe every single time.
I think that we should be honest and fair to ourselves. The laws guiding morality should not be different for men and women. I don’t even understand how that is even a thing. All we are saying essentially is, men are children without a solid moral compass and who cannot be held responsible for their choices and actions. But women are expected to be more responsible and so they must be judged and stoned to death if they cheat.
Unfortunately, society has conditioned us to have low expectations of men. So we drop the bar and have no standards. If he cheats, it was a mistake, he’s a man, it is to be expected, forgive him. If she cheats, beat her up, get even, throw her out.
What I found most annoying was the man’s incessant reference to culture and tradition and I had to call him out on it. A culture that marginalizes or places any group at a disadvantage is no good at all and should be discarded. Besides, culture is not static. It is forever evolving. And the fact that something is culture or tradition or popular doesn’t necessarily make it right. I mean, at some point, it was our culture to kill twin babies now wasn’t it?
Culture. Tradition. Stereotypes. These things need to go! Stop using them as an excuse to be irresponsible and selfish. If you are not ready to take responsibility and be faithful and loyal to one person, then don’t bother with commitments. Keep living your life as a baby boy or girl but do not give someone the impression that they are everything whilst they are only one of many things.
Speaking of stereotypes, I met a guy at a friend’s birthday party. Let’s call him Tobi. (Not his real name though, but he’s a Yoruba guy. And I’m stating this because I’d like to make a point.)
Now, Tobi was cute, worked as a consultant and shuttled between Nigeria and the US. He was a very interesting person. So we met at this party which as at the beach and we got talking. I’m a really lively person so that was only to be expected. We talked, danced, laughed and eventually I asked him to take a walk with me. He obliged me but not before I noticed what seemed like only a split second hesitation.
Of course, I could feel the butterflies in my stomach and in my head, I was planning the next time we would see. Then he asked if I was seeing anyone because friends had been teasing me about some guy. I quickly cleared the air and stated that I was single. And then I threw the question back to him and it turned out that he wasn’t. It was a little late so the darkness conveniently shielded the disappointment that flooded my face but it was gone in a few minutes.
Tobi and I walked and talked some more. We both had interesting career paths and talking points were so many so if we decided to hangout again, it would obviously be a lot of fun. But by the time the night was over, Tobi left without taking my number and even though I badly wanted to get his, I didn’t request for it. If he wanted to find me, he could have. But it’s been almost 3 months now and I haven’t heard from him. So much for the Yoruba man stereotype. Tobi exhibited a high sense of discipline and personal responsibility that night, I was really impressed. You don’t have to agree with me. It’s my opinion. Argue with the mosquitoes in your room.
Society is made up of people and people are not machines. We can think and feel. We can be responsible. Do not blame your inadequacies on a stereotype. These things only exist because individuals created a pattern. Determine to do different. Determine to do right. If we have these conversations often enough and we are truthful to ourselves, I believe that in time, more people will begin to take responsibility.
I guess all I’m saying is, treat people how you would like them to treat you. If you would not like your partner to cheat on you, do not cheat on them. If you would not like them to lie to you, do not lie to them. At the end of the day, if you ask me, what is good for the goose is equally good for the gander. 🙂