Trapped

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I wonder how they do it

I mean live this life

The good life they call it

While  I sit here all day – TRAPPED

My eyes belies the anguish in my heart

Will I continue to live the good life and die never to have lived?

A woman is kicked by her boss

Battered until she loses her seed seven months nourished

I see Mary on the street, everyday with her three little ones

Begging pennies for pie

While children of lone, lost villages scramble eagerly under the banyan tree

Seeking the magic that is education

We are living the good life

I will not know heat

My children will not know hunger

They will see snow and the harmattan

Shuttling between both globes like the jet -age children they are

But they will never know the magic of growing a crop

Or sit by a quiet rural stream as a sunset kisses the land

They will not hear the sweet bleating of goats

Nor the morning cries of sparrows by windows

Dances by moonlight will be forever lost to them

Like it is lost to the others and is lost to me

And I sit here all day

Unable to unlock the chains that binds me to conform

Unwilling to discard the good life I desire for myself, for my children

It is an 8 to 4, in the city center, with medicals and housing schemes

It’s the good life and I’ve got it and I’m TRAPPED!

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Mourning Walk

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My hands are trembling

My feet are dragging

My heart is pounding

Fear grips my being

And quick, brisk strides are reduced to a toddler’s crawl

But what is it that strikes such fear?

What is it I dread to encounter?

By the sidewalk she sits each morning of every day

A grubby, homeless mother huddled on the street

With three little girls for company all day

And we pass, all of us pass by

To our very important jobs, our busy, busy lives

Come rain, come sun, there she remains huddled

With three little girls, begging pennies for pie

If only their clothes were not so wretched

If only the little one were not painfully emaciated

If only flies did not perch on sores and food alike

Then maybe I’d feel better as I passed by each morning

And like all others passing by

Leave behind a coin to assuage my conscience

As days drag by, so does my feet

Now heavy with memories of a mother by the sidewalk

Hastily dropped coins have not eased sufferings

Neither has it lessened inertia induced guilt

Feet dragging slowly, torturously along the sidewalk

Terrified of what definitely lay ahead

Today, I brace myself for the sight again

Courage is quickly summoned to combat the ordeal

I see three little girls and a grubby, homeless woman

Huddled on the sidewalk on my way to work

I dropped a coin, raised my head and walked away

Praying they would be gone by my next walk byImage

A Typical Day

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Hundreds of cars stretched out in front – bumper to bumper – for kilometres ahead. All headed the same direction on the narrow, 2-lane stretch of road. From her position inside the hot, motionless commuter bus, she gazed in dismay at the dreary prospect ahead of her. Bathed in sweat in the hot, sticky evening air, she sat as still as was possible for any living human, because she knew that the slightest movement, causing exertion, would double the sweat pouring down her body and she dreaded the thought of it.

Slowly, the bus inched forward in the sticky, furnace like heat. The heat was as thick as marble, one could carve words on it. The rate at which they were moving, the 15 minutes journey under normal conditions could turn to 2 hours in the after work/home bound traffic.

From her motionless posture inside the commuter bus, Lisa mentally ran through the activities she would have to complete by the time she arrived home from the 2-hour traffic situation: her activities included (1)Pick up her 2 toddlers from the daycare close to her abode (they couldn’t afford a live in nanny as the expenses far exceeded their meagre budget. But as the case was now turning out to be, she was more often than not returning later than the daycare closing time, so that come month end, they would have to contend with higher bills than budgeted). (2)Prepare dinner (3)Bath and feed the toddlers (4)Assist with their assignments (5)Coax them into bed early enough (6)Complete a presentation she had brought back home from work and (7)Catch up on some lectures noted she had missed (she was studying for her MSc part-time). All these she would have to squeeze into a four hour period from the time she arrived home by 6pm and 10pm when Michael, her husband was expected home from work.

The mere thought of the tasks she had to accomplish in that short period of time was daunting, considering the fact that she would already be tired from the 2-hour trip home spent in traffic and in a heat filled bus. Anyone – knowing what lay ahead of her each week day on arrival from work – would have expected her to be looking dejected and weary- But surprisingly, the reverse was her countenance. In fact, some passengers sitting close to her in the hot, sticky, smelling bus were at a loss as to the source of joy on the young woman’s face. She looked like a lighted beacon, with joy radiating from her being. They wondered at the source of such joy in the very uncomfortable situation they found themselves.

But it was joy known only to Lisa. One born of love and contentment for the many little blessing sprinkled all over her life. One of such blessings, in fact, the very one that lit up her face at that moment was the thought of Michael her husband. At 10pm, when he arrived home, he would gather her up in his arms, like a little bundle of joy – because in reality, that was what he thought her to be – plant a first warm kiss on her forehead and a second even warmer kiss on her lips. Then he would have his bath and sit down to a hot dinner as he lovingly asked her about her day and listened carefully to every word she said.

After dinner, he would hang around the kitchen, chatting with her and helping out as she did the dishes. Afterwards, they would watch a late night news, movie or musical together in warm silence. Their final acts were to check on the sleeping children then say a night prayer together before turning in. At times, they made warm, passionate love, at other times, they just lay wrapped in each other’s arms as they fell asleep.

So yes indeed, Lisa had reason for the inner joy that radiated from her being as she sat in the hot, sticky, smelling bus, in high traffic on her way home from work. Her reason was joy, born of shared love and contentment. A kind of joy that the innumerable challenges of daily living could never rob her of.

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Highway Man

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. . . and he pulled, yanked and forced it to move with extreme effort. His eyes were bloodshot, bulging out of sockets. Veins stood out on his brows. Sweat poured down from hair to chin. All muscles were strained in concentration as he faced the deadly terrain before him.

Front, back, left and right, he saw obstacles, hugh and small. He dreaded them, hated them, feared them. However, he knew all must be conquered in his bid to reach his destination.

Weaving in between the obstacles, he navigated a path only he could see. It was one engraved in his mind from years of frequenting the terrain. He was a veteran and he knew his goal.

His wards sat transfixed in fright as he methodically leveled one obstacle after another. They dreaded interfering with his maniacal movement and concentration for fear that a minute distraction would occasion their waterloo.

In this manner he progressed, staring eyes transfixed on the path and goal ahead. Head whipping from side to side to hurl obscenities at presumed aggressors. Moving at breakneck speed, weaving in between obstacles, muscles strained, veins bulging, voice hoarse until he came to a screeching, bone jarring, teeth grinding, abrupt stop at his goal – the bus stop.

With a final hiss of ‘e bole, e bole’ he announced the end of the hour long trip from Oshodi to Berger.

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The Nigerian Song – A must sing for every Nigerian

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I love Nigeria
I no go lie
Na inside am I go live and die
I never regret being a Nigerian
Nigeria continues
Our victory is certain

PS: The author just experienced a bout of ‘joie de vivre’ and this short lyrics sprung forth. Thanks for singing along :)

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Why Cynthia Died

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The recent murder of Cynthia Osokogu by two male assailants has shocked millions of Nigerians. The fact that Cynthia was just 24 years old and the only daughter of her parents while her assailants were both under-30 years old undergraduates of Nigerian universities has made the story all the more gruesome.

Reports have it that she was drugged, raped and beaten severely before being strangled to death by the two heartless young men on realizing that she did not have money on her person as they expected she would.

What would have occasioned such a beastly act in this modern age of computers and spaceships is far beyond comprehension of the average Nigerian who sees the other Nigerian as his neighbor and brother’s keeper. Alas, times are fast changing. True, we live in a modern age where the advent of social networking has made the world an even smaller global village. People who hitherto would not have deemed it possible to encounter each other in a lifetime are now given the opportunity to interact freely on the social networking platform.

Needless to say, the benefits of this new form of interactions amongst people and cultures, courtesy advances in technology, abounds. Unfortunately, so does its disadvantages. I will not go into the extensive debate of the advantages and disadvantages of technology and social networking here.

Cynthia’s gruesome murder, of no doubt came as a shocking and heartbreaking news to her family and unfortunately, would remain for a very long time in their minds. Nigerians, on the other hand, have been given another discussion topic to add to the already teeming and controversial topics making waves all over the country. In fact, her story is already making its way to the back shelves of the interest cabinet as the cases of past victims, who have been emboldened by the assailants’ capture, and who are now emerging to testify of similar assault at the hands of the accused, are already gaining rapt interest.

In the midst of all these drama, the real lesson or impact of Cynthia’s unfortunate demise will as usual be lost on Nigerians. And what is this lesson you may ask? The fact that such an unhappy incident and wanton taking of life could only occur in a society where values have been thrown to the winds and morals have become old wives boring tales. We are now living in a society where a whole new generation, the so-called future leaders of Nigeria are being brought up to enshrine materiality whilst treasuring as a sacred mantra, the lyrics of a gangster song that goes ‘get rich or die trying’.

Whatever happened to the warning inherent in the old saying ‘the love of money is the root of all evil’. One of my favorite quotations and guards against present day materialism is culled from a book ‘The Far Country’ written by Paul Twitchell and it goes thus:

‘A man without the armor of values has no defense against the pressures of society. It is precisely the loss of value which has turned that inner directed man of the nineteenth century to the outer directed automaton of today.’

As unfortunate as Cynthia’s murder was, it would nevertheless profit Nigerian as a whole to take a detached but an in-depth look at the sorry incident and realize that but for the excessive lure of materialistic inducements; Cynthia would still have been alive today.

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Umbrella for You :)

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Beryl is a little girl of eight years. By November 2012, she will be nine years old, but she is a little girl with one of the most practical demonstrations of the word love. If you are looking for a lesson in love, please look no further than the actions of eight years old Beryl. Each day, I marvel at the actions of one so young and barely nine. Her practical demonstrations are more explicit than any dictionary can provide.

It is a week now since she requested if I could make photocopies of some pictures for her. It was intended for use in her art class at school.

‘But off course, I’d make them for you’, I was quick to reassure to get her off my back. (She can be a bother when she wants something done).
The days progressed and a day became a week. Her deadline; the following week’s Tuesday was just around the corner.

‘Could you please bring the photocopies when returning from work today? My teacher will punish me if I do not have them by tomorrow.’

‘But off course I will’. I promised again. ‘I am sorry I forgot them last week.’ The day was Monday morning of her deadline week and I reassured her a second time as I dashed off to work.

Work pressure has a way of taking your mind off issues unrelated to work. Hence when I returned home at about 8pm that day, feeling tired but accomplished after a hard day’s work, I hadn’t the slightest idea that I had forgotten anything. Until smiling Beryl happily opened the door at my ring and inquired about her photocopies. My heart sank.

The accomplished feeling fled my countenance. I felt dismayed to have failed her again. As I contemplated her impending confrontation with her teacher for failure to turn in her assignment, my face fell and sadness engulfed me. I walked slowly into the living room area, dejected, and dropped heavily into an armchair.

But Beryl loved me. She might not yet know the literal meaning of love (I am still teaching her how to find word meaning in the dictionary), but she fully understands its demonstrations.

An alternative reaction would have been to throw a tantrum at my forgetful nature, lament her impending ordeal at the hands of her teacher, blame it on me and then sulk for the remaining part of the evening.

Instead, her eyes filled with love as she ran after me to give me a big hug. ‘Please don’t feel bad’ she cried. ‘Am sure you had a very busy day today. You look very tired. Please just have your bath, eat something and rest. I’ll tell my teacher to give me until Wednesday, ok?’ These were the loving words of an eight-year old child. My grieving heart calmed at these gentle words and I proceeded to do as recommended.

Later on, while lying on my bed on the verge of slumber, a small palm caressed my cheeks and a soft voice whispered gently into my ears ‘see, I have put the umbrella here, beside your bedside table, ok’.

In morning I woke with loving memories of eight-year old Beryl’s action. The day before, I was beaten by the rain on my way to work from home because I couldn’t find the umbrella. Beryl did not like the idea that I’d get beaten a second time. So she helped search for the umbrella.

I don’t  know if any other action can explain the word ‘love’ more than the demonstrations of eight-year old Beryl. If you are looking for a lesson in love, please look no further than Beryl’s actions. Each day, I am astonished by her practical demonstrations what love is and what a loving heart is capable of. I learn so much from this sweet little child about how to open my heart to love and I pray daily for God’s help in becoming a model for her, worthy of emulation .

‘Foreign’ Call

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Oh Foreign, my Foreign
You are my sovereign lord
For you hold sway over my heart
In a firm grip I cannot dislodge

The lords of your land have held me captive
Twice in a row, they have plucked my heart out
Amid cones of wintry beaten pines
And have placed it upon sea shores
For my first taste of bliss

How I have blossomed in their arms
How I have unfurled sepals that locked hidden petals
Permitting bees a taste of nectar within

Now I lie spent
Many bees lie drunk
I have been abandoned by the shores
As they depart with evening tide

Alas – they did but leave a cage ‘sans’ spirit
For as I lie spent on windy shores
I feel not the wind
See not receding line of departing ships
But a joyful spirit aboard your ship
Sailing with you to part no more.

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The Biggest Secrets of All Time

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It is 1:37am in the morning and I cannot sleep
Because I have just being given the biggest secrets of all time
Revealed to me on a platter of Gold

I sat in my room in insomnia
I sat and listened, for want of better things to do
And then quite suddenly but quietly the night whispered to me
The Biggest Secrets of All time

‘It is finished
It is finished because it all finished before it started
And there is nothing
There never was anything in the first place
All is Nothing’

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Originally posted on Confessions of a Love Addict:

There are men out there who will respond to your text messages. Men who will initiate conversations because they simply can’t wait to see what you’ll say next. There are men who will never be too busy or too preoccupied to wish you good morning, regardless if you’re a country or a block away. Men who remember to call when they say they will – because they want to – and those who surprise you with their curiosity about your sometimes monotonous days. There are men who aim to be the last person you talk to before you sleep and the first name you see on your screen when you rise. Men who show up on time – or even early – men who are genuinely excited to see you.

There are men who want to go on dates. Real dates. Men who want to take you out to their favorite…

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A Brighter Perspective

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I heard this story when I was a child. Remembering it now, I thought to share it with you. It is a great story that inspired me to always look at the brighter side of life. It goes thus:

A family had twin boys whose only resemblance to each other was their looks. If one felt it was too hot, the other thought it was too cold. If one said the TV was too loud, the other claimed the volume needed to be turned up. Opposite in every way, one was an eternal optimist, the other a doom and gloom pessimist.

Just to see what would happen, on the twins’ birthday their father loaded the pessimist’s room with every imaginable toy and game. The optimist’s room he loaded with horse manure.

That night, when the father passed by the pessimist’s room and found him sitting amid his new gifts crying bitterly.
“Why are you crying?” the father asked.

“Because my friends will be jealous, I’ll have to read all these instructions before I can do anything with this stuff, I’ll constantly need batteries, and my toys will eventually get broken,” answered the pessimist twin.

Passing the optimist twin’s room, the father found him dancing for joy in the pile of manure. “What are you so happy about?” he asked.

To which his optimist twin replied, “There’s got to be a pony in here somewhere!”

The Trouble with Nigeria is . . .

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The trouble with Nigeria is. . . The trouble with Nigeria is. . . The trouble with Nigeria is what???

For Heaven’s sake, there is no trouble with Nigeria!!! I am sick and tired of hearing people talk about the trouble with Nigeria. Some swear the trouble is with the leadership. Others blame it on the followers. In fact, Nigerians would blame it on any and everybody or thing who can take a blame.

When I say ‘they’, I mean you there reading this post, me who wrote it, and the great majority of you out there who will not even bother to read it even if you see it posted on my Facebook wall and on the wall of your home page for your perusal. You will just gloss over it with your mouse and move on to other more seemingly interesting gossip-like items to read.

Because you see, even if I believe there is no trouble with Nigeria, the fact that some percentage of Nigerians hold this same view is the greatest malady plaguing this country. Off course we are a greatly troubled growing and learning nation, however we should endeavor to pay more and more attention to the learning part of our growing experiences. We are so much in love with gist (small talks), gist and more gist that we forget the important things in life to pay attention to. You think I am telling lies? Let us just wait and see how many of you Nigerians who read this post will bother to comment on it and tell us how we can unearth this ‘elusive’ trouble with Nigeria and proffer ways to overcome it.

For in my point of view, there is no trouble with Nigeria. Any who insists there is, a thousand pox on you. Nigeria is just like an adventurous youth. And like every other adventurous youth, she must go through every likely experience to come out strong, mature and fit for adulthood. If in the cause of her cliff hanger-like youthful adventures, she breaks an arm or sprain a dozen knees, what can we say? Next time, she’ll know better and do better.

So everyone of you, stop the crazy shout about ‘the trouble with Nigeria, the trouble with Nigeria, the trouble with Nigeria’. Because I tell you, there is no trouble with Nigeria. She is but a growing child and in growing, she must make mistakes to learn. Period!!!

Acute Disenchantment

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my bare palm are raised, upturned, yet I stare unto the heavens
My tongue is free, unencumbered, yet I cannot speak
For words have fled their abode in my heart
Just as love have fled its abode in his heart
I should speak, I should tell of the fear and the hurt in my heart
I should tell of this need for love and reassurance
Yet who would bother a woman in labor with tales of a burning house?
For such tales would be deemed ‘dis-comforting noises!’
Lord! How I’d loath to speak of such ‘dis-comforting noises!’
Yet my heart craves the return of warmth and kindness to his voice
But even if my tongue is free, unencumbered,
I still cannot speak of hurts and needs
For the fear of making ‘dis-comforting noises!’

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ceypeyun:

A great post for everyone. Brought me a lot of relief and insight for better living.

Originally posted on Greatpoetrymhf's Weblog:

Frame for sweat lodge at Lake Superior Provinc...

Frame for sweat lodge at Lake Superior Provincial Park, Wawa, Ontario, Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

SweatLodge

SweatLodge (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

sweatlodge

sweatlodge (Photo credit: talkingplant)

No matter where I chance to roam

The place I heal the best is home….

Once while working in Fort McMurray at one of my fathers hotels…..I felt homesick.  An elder stopped by the lobby and asked me how I was doing.  I told him I wanted be at my own home but my family needed the help for the time being.   He smiled and said

You are always home

Where you walk is sacred ground.

This is your home….(pointing his whole body)….

He had my attention.

This is your roof

These are your windows…..

On and on throughout the whole body with the roof being the top of my head and the windows my eyes.

I never forgot that….until now.

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The ‘New Post’ tab is just not for me!

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When WordPress.com incorporated the new post tab into its home page, I am sure many of its active blogging community lauded the idea. It afforded them a quick and easy way of getting ideas from brain to page in just a few clicks of the keyboard and mouse. Or maybe in more like a few thousand clicks. But the fact that it was a novel and welcome addition to the site cannot be disputed.

I for instance, formed part of the bandwagon that welcomed this new innovation. I viewed it as the prince charming sent to save my blog in distress. As the blogging adventure I embarked upon was beginning to have sore undertones. Now that adventure has been anything but smooth in the last one year since I embarked upon it. My progress since launching the blog has been as sporadic as the progress of my subscribers list.

Maybe I didn’t write enough to motivate readers to return to my blog regularly and then consider clicking the subscribe button. Maybe my write ups were not as witty and captivating as that of a blog with a subscriber’s count of over 5000. I just could not fathom it. All I knew was that the combination of too many blogging ideas, too busy schedule, poor coordination and a low subscribers count all contributed to my blaming my low posting count on the fact that there wasn’t a good enough tool to accommodate my frequent burst of blogging ideas.

So when WordPress.com introduced the New Post tab in the Home Page, I was really excited at the prospect of having a ready tool to accommodate these frequent burst of ideas . As the weeks after the introduction of this tab progressed, I became disturbed to realize that this welcome introduction was not turning out to mean an increase in my blog post and a subsequent increase in my subscribers count.

This was because, as the sorry case turned out to be, the frequency of my ideas could not be matched by an equally frequent conversion speed. Do you know how long it takes me to convert a single blogging idea into a published post? Between 2 to 14 days! It would start with my jotting down the first burst of idea in perhaps a paragraph or two. I’d let it fallow for a day and then go back to see if it was some thing worth developing. Decision made as the case may be, I’d either trash it or begin amassing more ideas to give it substance. This process could take between three days to a week given my mood or work/traffic schedule. Some posts even end its life span at this stage. I have over 50 of them in this category.

Writing completed, the next stage would be the editing for typographical, grammatical or punctuation errors. Followed by the final reading to decide if the piece was really worthy of my effort and deserving of posting. In this manner, about 14 days is consumed in just a single piece.

Now I realize that my initial excitement at the introduction of the ‘New Post’ tab was premature. It was conceived for bloggers whose idea to conversion speed was in the whereabouts of 10 to 30 minutes and not for the likes of my 14 days conversion speed. So yesterday I decided that the New Post tab was just not for me. I had better content myself with viewing it as an ornament on the home page. :(

NB: However, I shocked myself when I wrote this piece using the “New Post” tab in just 37 minutes. Guess there’s still hope for me. :)

Just to prove that I can Still do a Story in Two Hours ;)

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Source flickr.comIt had been over five years now since Temi first met Tochukwu ; and in those five years, never had she ever guessed that Tochukwu  harbored tender feelings towards her, until that faithful night, two months ago when he held her in his arms and whispered the words ‘I love you’.

Five (5) years was a long time to know someone and decide on ones feelings. However, Temi felt after the first two (2) year of knowing Tochukwu that she could fall in love with him, and she fought it.

Tochukwu was everything she had convinced herself she would not have in a man – he was Igbo (a majority tribe from the eastern part of Nigeria) and she was Yoruba (also a majority tribe but from the western part of same country). Now it was not as if there was bad blood between tribes in the country, it was just that people often favored relationships with tribesmen and women because of a feeling of being comfortable with the known and scared of unknowns. This was one of the major societal problems that the introduction of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme set out to remedy. The method of the scheme was to mandate graduates fresh form higher institutions to serve the country in any stipulated capacity and in any community through posting them to parts of the country different from their state of origin, education and abode. In this way they were made to visit, live and serve in a particular community for the mandatory period of one year, something majority of them would not have dared to attempt hitherto. It was during one of such postings that Temi met Tochukwu and they became fast friends.

Secondly, Tochukwu was not a TDH (Tall, Dark and Handsome) man that she had always hoped to fall in love with. True Tochukwu was not unpleasant looking, but he wasn’t drop dead handsome either. Although she had to admit that he had a pleasant way of looking at her out of the corner of his eyes, when he would smile and tease her about nothing in particular that lent a warm boyish charm to his looks. Also to give him credit for not being shoulder high taller than she was, he was at least a head high taller. But to Temi as at that time, any man who wasn’t six (6) feet tall was short and totally out of the question as a potential for her. Together with Tochukwu ’s complexion bordering on the fair side, he lost out completely in the race to becoming Temi’s ideal man. However, that did not disqualify him from chances of being a good friend. So they became friends and remained so as the years went by.

If they were just good friends, as Temi had for so long led herself into believing, why was it that of all the TDH’s she had known and dated, she was only comfortable sharing the innermost secrets of her hearts with Tochukwu? They could talk for hours on end on the phone, laughing at little jokes and gently teasing each other. They would share their days’ events and would be quick offer comforting words when one of them had an unpleasant day. And when for a period of about eight (8) months Temi was out of a job, Tochukwu proved to be a great source of comfort and encouragement to her.

Recently, Temi realized that she was no longer at ease with Tochukwu . She could not really explain why or how this came about. All she knew was that she was no longer as open towards Tochukwu as she used to be. She realized that there were little emerging secrets in her heart that she could no longer share with him. The thought of some of them would often drive her into fits of blushes to her utmost exasperation. What was this thing happening to her? And why was it happening to her she would ponder endlessly in frustration. What was actually happening was that these days she was often content to lie in bed and dream about what it would feel like to be in Tochukwu arms, feel his strong, muscled arms encircle her body and caress her, while his lips brushed gently against hers and hear him whisper sweet, tender words into her ears. Then she would blush at the vividness of her thoughts, bite her lips hard and get angry at herself for ever imagining such things. Tochukwu wasn’t her type remember? She would reiterate in a hopeless bid to take her mind off him. But it didn’t work.

Thus as the days went by, the frustrations of her little kept secrets would drive her into madness, making her pick small, irrelevant quarrels with him. Tochukwu perplexed, would wonder at her sudden change of attitude but would rather let sleeping dogs lie than quarrel with her. His gentle nature would never permit him to react in anger towards her and this attitude endeared him to her heart more than ever. Sometimes in the depths of her unhappiness, she would wonder if ever Tochukwu felt anything for her. She would probe deeply and deeper into her heart, go over numerous conversations they had had, re-scrutinize every glance, searching for hidden meanings, alas, she found none. In despair she would give up; tears milling in her eyes that what she felt was one sided. Tochukwu was just being his normal, gentle and teasing self, and try as much as she did; she could not reconstruct tender, romantic affection from his actions.

With heavy heart, and secrets kept unshared, their friendship progressed, until that faithful magical night when circumstances caused them to be thrown together, and for the first time ever, Tochukwu had gathered her up in his strong arms, held her close to his heart, brushed his lips gently over hers and whispered three (3) soft words ‘I love you’. Unlike all the other times when she had heard those three (3) same set of words, this time, Temi did not have to think twice before she voiced her response. Coming from the depths of her heart, her head nestled in the curve of his chest, she joyfully whispered back, ‘I love you too’.

All that had happened two months ago. Today looking back, she wondered if that magical night had ever occurred. Her heart screamed to her that it had; maybe because it wanted to believe in what was. However, reality denied its very existence. Tochukwu was his usual gentle, teasing self. They would still call each other and talk at lengths about nothing in particular, but the magic of that night was lost forever. Or was it? Temi, having heard those words once was not ready to lose them again. Why was Tochukwu behaving as if nothing had happened that night? Did he really feel anything for her? Was it the magic and intimacy of the moment that had provoked the words from him? Only time would tell. However, knowing Tochukwu , ‘time’ could span a thousand years. Was she ready to wait that long before she heard another tender, loving word from him? The constraints of her upbringing and culture forbade her from taking the initiative in matters of the hearts involving the male folks. What then could she do?

In Bleak Times

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In bleak times such as this
I cannot say my name
I do not know my God
I cannot call your name
For the distance that separates us
Is far deeper than a sea of waters
And than the depths of your loving gaze

In bleak times such as this?
Why did you have to go?
Why did you touch my heart – lift it
Only to forget it as you packed your case?

The nights are colder now in your absence
My niece affirms they had always been
But I never did notice them
Lying in the warmth of your arms

Now in bleak times such as this
When the sight of faces reeks murderous deception
And the manipulations of jealous minds tear down destiny
I have forgotten to say my name
To call my God
Forgotten all . . .
But the memory of you

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Half Formed Lives

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What’s with the question of mortality that puts a price on the living?

What’s with the talk of tomorrow when I can barely see the now?

The much priced eternity is only a concept for fools

Who have lost the taste of the present ‘joie de vivre’

For without this taste

This feeling

This longing

This intense yearning and giving

Eternity is not formed!

Like a seed craving germination without the soil  . . .

Eternity from the future will remain unformed

Until we have mated the now

Thus planting the seed we shall name – ‘Tomorrow’

 

Of Stings and Honey. . .

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Even when veterans still cringe at the war call
How stupid of you to think you could fare better?
When you know the taste, when you even anticipate it
It doesn’t for one second takes the sting off it
Yet the price of a sting would not have in a thousand years
Kept you away from tasting honey
And given another opportunity– am sure you’ll taste the taste again
For what is life without life?
Those little chanced meeting that brings meaning to existence

The magical moment of a gaze
Of when two sights lock in recognition
When time freezes and creation is renewed
Now the heart sighs from the memory of stings
However, purer, gentler memories will soon
Sooth sighing hearts to sweet slumber

For A Slice of Happiness

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What would you do for a slice of happiness?
If you had it thrust before you
How far would you run?
How high would you jump?

What would you do for a slice of happiness?
If that happiness meant another’s despair

Blue eyed nobility are often bearers of Greek gifts
And the gentlest of kisses heralds love’s purest gift
But what would you do for a slice of happiness?
If you had it thrust before you
How far would you run?
How much would you risk?
If your sheer hope of happiness – equals another despair?

The future is here now
In the life we live and the actions we daily take
If it feels right, why can’t it be right?
Why must one shiver in fear over stolen kisses?
Why must one steal kisses?
But what isn’t mine isn’t!
Because freely given or not – the cub is the lion’s

So then, what would you do for a slice of happiness?
If you had it thrust before you
As the future slips away – undecided
And a chance for happiness – is perhaps never realized

And I hated my Father? (1)

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Recently, I sat recalling some of the events of my adolescent and teenage years, when it occurred to me that little had changed since those times and the present. By little had changed, I meant that my father still remained as ‘over’ security conscious as he was in those days and I used to be highly irritated by this attitude. I am not anymore.
His ‘over’ security consciousness was the bane of my existence then. My father would never be content to see an object slightly out of place without wanting to know how it came to be there. A forgotten to be locked door at night would result in waking up all of us to be questioned and if the culprit could not be ascertained in time, then a round of flogging would follow. Other incidences like windows left slightly more ajar than usual, unfamiliar/suspicious noises or sounds, smells, faces, unfamiliar/suspicious or displaced toys or objects etc would also attract his scrutiny to my utmost exasperation.
Life in the northern part of Nigeria in those days was not as dangerous and full of strife and fear as it is now – or so I innocently thought. The only major near dangerous situations I experiences as a child living in Sokoto state was of the family being robbed while we slept on the first day of our arrival in the state and subsequent other petty theft like the Zulu’s (a dog-eating tribe) occasionally robbing us of one or two of our dogs for their nutrition.
However, I still saw nothing in these little incidences to warrant my dad’s over security conscious actions such that one night, in reaction to one of the countless waking ups to question about who left a particular door open or who heard a particular noise during the night, I cried out in anger to my mother: ‘but who/what is he always searching for that he was yet to find all these years? Why must he live in constant fear of the unknown and subsequently infect us with this feeling of insecurity? Why is he always suspecting every strange or unusual person or thing? And what exactly is he expecting to find or happen? Who is this enemy he is constantly looking for?’
My mother, bewildered by her child’s outburst, was in an uncomfortable position. She had long come to trust my father’s strange habits and intuition and so saw nothing wrong in his actions, or maybe perhaps just the waking up of children in the middle of the night part. Being that my father had no discovery to tell for all his ever vigilant actions, she was at her wits end to explain to a child the need for this behavior; thus all she could say that night was: ‘respect your father and obey, child. Soon you will understand the reason for his actions’.
But the anger of a child recently and often disturbed from sweet slumber could not so easily be appeased with those few words; so I hated my father as a child. Little did I know that my parents were right i.e. my father who with his actions gradually instilled in us a sense of security awareness – now an invaluable tool in today’s society and my mother for her words of advice; if only I knew then how soon they would come to pass. . .

Fix My PC

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I sat and watched in exasperation as he fumbled and toyed with my PC. He had loosened all the screws was methodically pulling the PC apart. First, the keypads, then the screen, the battery, the bottom covering, the hard drive, the memory, and even the CD ROM until the whole thing was just a jumble of disassembled parts.

And I watched it all in helplessness. There was absolutely nothing I could do. I who prided my self with knowledge on the workings of the computer. But the humbling fact was that what ailed my PC this time was beyond my comprehension. All I could do was watch in helplessly as they tore one of my most treasured possessions apart in a bid to get it back into working order.

At the height of my helplessness, I remembered in heightened frustration the harbinger of this misfortune. A power surge in the midst of a torrential rainfall had killed my laptop screen and fried the motherboard. How did this happen to me? Why even me in the first place? My tears flowed freely at the realization that there was no one to hold for the cost of the repair but myself. I mentally calculated the cost of a new screen, motherboard and the repair work and almost settled for abandoning the whole project.

But the truth was that I really had no choice but to carry on with the repairs as I could not afford the cost of a new laptop at this point in time. No matter how frustrating the repair work was, it was still cheaper than procuring a new laptop. Thus, I sat in that small, stuffy office in Otigba in mounting frustration as I watched them fumbling and toying with my PC, claiming an attempt at a diagnosis of its ailment.

From the look of things, I was going to be charged a lot for faults caused by a simple power surge and yet these so called PC professionals were yet to diagnose my system ailment? It was at times like this that I wished I had majored in Computer Science/ Engineering. How I detest the feeling of helpless in any situation or being at the mercy of anyone as I now was at the mercy of these PC technicians. I recalled a certain similar situation of helpless. This one concerning an ailment I contacted, where the doctors took a long time in diagnosing the ailment, while I writhed helplessly in pain at their mercy.

The Irony of this whole frustrating situation was that these particular technicians were known by the name ‘FIXMYPC’. So whenever I mounted the words ‘have you fixedmypc? How long does it take to fixmypc? Are you sure you can fixmypc? And so on, it fell on deaf ears as it was just as if I was merely calling their trade name and not referring to them. So I was totally ignored as they continued their poking and prodding on my system.

I have never felt so helpless in my whole life. My PC is one of my most favored companions. To even consider the thought of going home for one day without her was heart breaking. And to think that I had no back up for the data in her. My gosh! What have I gotten myself into? See what a stupid power surge has cost me? And what am I to do if these so called ‘FIXMYPC’ technician ended up failing to ‘FIXMYPC’?

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Dear Sir . .

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Good Day Sir,

This is miss ………………. I was informed by …………….. (my ex-undergraduate classmate in University of …………….) that you could be of help to me in resolvig the issue I have with the department of ……………… in the University of ……………

I wrote the qualifying examination for the …………….. programme, but the results released last week indicated that I did not write the exams i.e. the My scipts could not be found.

I have attached the exam photo card here for your perusal.

I wil apperciate all efforts on my behalf to resolve this issue.

Sincerely yours

…………………………..

Northern Dawn

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Dawn in the north simmers into the atmosphere like a maiden sweeps into her lover’s chamber

It is quiet, not silent and peace pervaded the solitude

The sounds of nocturnal creatures are just but dying out

And the brief period of solitude – the one which precedes the rise of habitation premeates the air

They rise with the sun, I rise with dawn

In their rising, they bring life to the world

But the time before this life, this period

This feeling before the rising sun and habitation – Is where I belong

The northern dawn shimmers in the atmosphere

I am left without

Filled with this silent but all consuming sound

Fresh air I can breathe – Unrestricted Contentment!

Before You Err

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Before you’d err
Before you’d do the things that will fetch you a human garb
Before you’d act those actions that will unveil my hooded sights
I’ll take the first steps and break up with you.

This friendship wasn’t made for endurance
Nor were our kisses meant for routine
We were meant to behold eachother and behold a spectacle
A fresh exciting experience, that keeps the heart aflutter with each new gaze

Who told you I wanted to call you ‘Daddy’, or wished myself the term ‘Mummy’?
Do you think footsteps on the sands of time always head the same direction?
Is it until you see the path in which some seperates
Before you’d realize the truth about posterity?

So before you err, before you turn human before my very eyes
Before I behold monsters where angels once sat
Before the magic of us fades into the unkind realities of tomorrow
I’d first cheat fate by breaking up with you.

………………………………………………………

Alas! Did I but delude myself?

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Your Heart Must Lie Still-Asleep

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How do you wipe this bitterness from your heart?
How do you root out this pain – So that you see it plainly for what it is ?
And know there is no gain whatsoever in keeping the pain?

What has life taught you?
Save that it harbors naught but blessings and lessons?
Yet you swear your heart be full of pain
How can this be so?

Have you forgotten that lovely sonorous sounds of the birds?
By your window chirping all mornings for your listening pleasure?
Are you unaware that the music of a babe’s laughter far eclipses its cries?
Haven’t your heart trilled at the heat of the sun’s rays after months of fierce winter?
Or listened to the flowing river and heard naught but symphonies?
Have the sunset ever held anything but beauty for you?

Yet you swear still to hold naught but sorrows in your heart?
This cannot be true!
I would not believe it!
Or perhaps your heart cannot have been awake
Perhaps it crouches still, encaged by its ribs
Too scared to venture forth
To behold the beauties of our world

Are You Normal?

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Just because you eat, drink, breathe and sleep does not mean you are a normal person. Many people take it for granted that people around them are normal people. Except for the ones in psychiatric homes or the obvious once we see acting out their abnormalities on the streets, we conclude that every other person is normal. But I tell you that this is far from the truth.

In-fact, just take another careful look around you and realize the shocking truth that you live in a world of abnormality. How? I’d give you a few instances to start you thinking.

1)      Some people, without any conscious will of theirs, were born with dada hair (or what is now popularly called dread locks). Mad people on the streets, with no means to care for themselves and without thought to personal hygiene have as a result developed dada hair. Now you tell me that a normal thinking person will wake up one morning, short of hair styles to make out of thousands of beautiful ones, will decide to settle for making the dreadful ‘dada’ hair? Please show me the normality here!

2)      Have you ever seen a lunatic dance before? Compare it with a modern day Nigeria dance style popularly called ‘alanta’ and tell me who is really the sane one amongst the two dancing parties.

Are you getting the picture now? Are you beginning to see the thin line that exists between the everyday normal people you know and the supposedly mad ones? Do you still think you and they (the supposedly normal ones) are normal?

To throw more light on this thought provoking topic, let us examine some dictionary meanings of the word normal to see if it can lead us to a better understanding of what an ideal normal behavior is or is not.

Wikipedia gives us this definition of the word ‘normal behavior’. It says ‘In behavior, normal refers to a lack of significant deviation from the average. The phrase “not normal” is often applied in a negative sense (asserting that someone or some situation is improper, sick, etc.) Abnormality varies greatly in how pleasant or unpleasant a thing/experience is for other people’.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines normal as ‘conforming to a standard. Another possible definition is that “a normal” is someone who conform to the predominant behavior in a society’.

The French sociologist Smile Durham indicated in his Rules of the Sociological Method that ‘the most common behavior in a society is considered normal. People who do not go along are violating social norms and will invite a sanction, which may be positive or negative, from others in the society’.

Let us take these definitions piece meal and see exactly how normal is the so called normal behavior.

Wikipedia claims that a lack of significant deviation from the average is enough criteria to classify a person as normal. But the question to ask oneself here is what an ‘average behavior’ is?Taking our nation Nigeria into cognizance, examples of the average behavior includes:

  • People eating in vehicles and throwing food wrappers out the window and onto the streets
  • Motorist screaming profanity at each other when caught in a traffic jam which they caused with their selfish driving attitudes
  • School children cheating audaciously in examinations without any iota of shame or remorse
  • Government officials/civil servants misusing public property and looting public funds shamelessly

The list abounds I tell you, this is just but a tip of the average behavior in today’s Nigeria and I dare anyone to contest this fact as untrue.

So going by Wikipedia’s definition of normal behavior, do we say that because there isn’t so much difference between your behavior and that of the average Nigerian, that you are normal? Hmm, I guess not.

The Oxford English Dictionary tells us that ‘a normal’ is someone who ‘conforms’ to the predominant societal behavior. It is without doubt that the above listed are Nigeria’s predominant societal behavior. So does conforming to these societal maladies make you a ‘normal’ person? Hmm! I can see some of you are beginning to question your normality.

Our final definition is that of Smile Durham’s in his Rules of the Sociological Method that says ‘the most common behavior in a society is considered normal. Thus people who do not go along are violating social norms and will invite a sanction, which may be positive or negative, from others in the society’.

This last definition of a normal behavior speaks for itself. From the forgoing, we can now begin to draw a distinction between two types of behaviors in a society; one is ‘a disciplined, moralistic behavior’ and the other is ‘a normal behavior’. There exists a relationship between these two kinds of societal behaviors in the sense that a disciplined, moralistic behavior can be the normal societal behavior or the undisciplined, amoral one can also be the normal societal behavior.

Thus, the criteria for determining normal behavior is dependent on what a particular society accepts as a normal behavior and not on issues of whether the behavior is beneficial or detrimental to that society.

A look at the definition of the word ‘abnormal’ from Microsoft Encarta Dictionary 2009 says that an ‘abnormal’ is something ‘unusual or unexpected, especially in a way that causes alarm or anxiety’. A web definition sees abnormal behavior as a ‘deviation from statistical and societal norms’.

Being ‘unusual or unexpected’ or ‘deviating from statistical and societal norms’ i.e. being abnormal is usually seen in a negative light. But what exactly does this mean in the Nigerian context? Have you ever being termed ‘unusual’ or ‘strange’or looked at in a funny way for doing the following things:

  • Eating in a public vehicle and carefully packing the wrappers back into your hand bag to be disposed off at the nearest drop off waist bin.
  • Buying gas (fuel) at a gas (fuel) station and politely demanding your change.
  • Politely advising your next door neighbor to go book an event hall for any subsequent social engagement as the noise generated from the present one is seriously disturbing your peace and that of the neighborhood
  • Refusing to compromise when holding public positions
  • Refusing to answer the call of ‘siiiiiii’ in an examination hall e.t.c

If you have being thought ‘unusual’ or ‘strange’ for doing the above listed among others then consider yourself an ‘abnormal’ in the Nigerian society. But be rest assured that being an abnormal in Nigeria’s society of today does not make your behavior undesirable.

Inasmuch as the predominant societal behavior is taken to be the normal one and any significant deviation from this predominant behavior is considered abnormal, we must understand that there exists a wide chasm between what is a discipline, moral behavior and a societal normal behavior. The two might at some point be fused into one and the same thing or the chasm might even widen more and more.

However, the fact remains that disciplined, moral behavior will always remain the desirable one in any progressive looking society and any society that succumb to indiscipline and amorality is definitely headed for its end. Thus the mere fact that your behavior is considered normal in your society does not make you a ‘normal’ person in the larger world society. So look around you today and spot the difference, then ask yourself the big question again: Are You Normal? Or better still ‘wouldn’t you rather remain abnormal in your present society?

Have you asked yourself this question?

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Great deeds do not often make great men and neither do great men often make great deeds. Often times the moment the deed is done we forget in the next minute, the act of its creation. Returning to our normal lives, we gradually loose that spark of greatness that the creation of the deed momentarily ignited in us.

But sometimes, amidst the upheavals and loves of mundane live, the routines that often lead to complacency in decadence, we catch a glimpse again of that fabulous moment, that particular moment when the great deed was created, when the realization was gained and the deed forged,  and then a sparkle is is returned to a mundane life.

It is at this moment that we realize that the totality of our life experiences, of our loves, hates, pains and gains, the sum total of it all, is lived only to furnish the tools for the making of great deeds. We realize also that the deed is in reality the culmination of our total existence and that the deed, without it, life is meaningless.

For me, it is at such moments, at moments when my actions have quantified into changing a life for the better or fashioning a smile where a frown was previously carved, it is at a such moment, that I know that my life will never remain the same again until I have duplicated, or better still birthed yet another great deed.

So then, until the next great deed, I live a dream whose reality will be the birthing of another life changing deed. Till then, life is life and and lived by the day, awaiting only the illumination of another such deed.

What great deed have you done today?

Ward 38

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When I regained consciousness, I found myself lying in the middle of the road with a lot of passer-by (or more like spectators) gathered all around me. I wondered what was i doing there drawing such large crowd, when it dawned on me that I was the cause of a serious traffic jam that was building up around the t-junction of the roads in the middle of which I was lying sprawled.
The babble of the crowd finally penetrated my still muddled senses nudging me fully conscious. It was then that I felt a trickle that was gradually developing into a steady flow of warm liquid rushing down my face from my forehead. I stretched an arm to feel the warm liquid and it came away covered in blood. At that exact moment, panic set in bringing an end to the rush of adrenalin that has initially kept me immune to the pain that was now slowly spreading across my whole body. It seemed as if a valve of pain had just been unplugged somewhere and the whole painful emotion was suddenly flung upon me. My whole body ached at every angle most especially my forehead which was at that moment pounding ferociously with blood gushing out. I espied a glance downwards at my formerly neatly pressed gray suit and lilac camisole and took in the new sight of blood stained clothing. Every trace of adrenaline now lost, tears flowed freely down my cheeks in pain.
The babble of the gathered crowd gradually began to trickle into my senses and to make sense. Amid the babble, I began to discern a word here, a phrase there. There had been an accident. An okada (Nigerian pidgin for a motorcycle) accident and I was the sole casualty. Typically, the culprit had speedily zoomed off on sighting his bloodied handwork lying sprawled in the middle of the road. But already, good Samaritans at the scene of the accident were set in motion cleaning me up and carrying me off the accident scene. As I was being carried off, a dizzying feeling began to wash over me and I began to drift into a faint. The last thought I could remember at that moment was that what would become of my face now for I was certain that I would be ghastly disfigured as a result of the cut on my forehead. Despairing, I was swept into a swoon.
………………………………………………………………………………………………………
That was how I found myself in ward 38.
When I woke up again, I found myself in a 6 bed room ward called ward 38. My not fully conscious sight slowly swept across the room, registering my surrounding and its occupants. Ward 38 was a large, rectangular shaped room with three single hospital beds lying on opposite ends of the room, across a walk through divide i.e. three beds were lying on each end of the spacious room with heads to the wall. Five of the six beds were occupied by patients in different stages of illness. I was one of them. An acrid smell of rot and illness filled the room mixed with a tinge of disinfectant smell.
My first waking thoughts were filled with the last of my memory just before my swooning. What was to become of my face? Would I be disfigured at this young age to face a life time as an ugly woman? I gave little though to the fact that my bodily pains had subsided and that the fact that I could move my limbs freely indicated that I had not sustained any serious bodily injury apart from the gash on my forehead. All my thoughts were focused on my supposed facial disfigurement so much that I forgot to give thanks for my surviving the accident in a near perfect state. But this was before I met my ward mates.

Let me introduce you to them.

Meet Anita
Lying on the bed to my immediate left was a woman in her late 40’s, I am not sure what exactly plagued her, but she was so stringed up in tubes and pipes that they seemed to be a part of her person. Some of them were taking fluid from her body, while others bringing fluid into her. She was lying prostrate and immobile on her back and seemed to be far gone from the land of the living. She obviously could not help herself and was at the mercy of the nurses and relatives for every assistance.

Meet Chioma
Situated on the bed to my extreme left was Chioma who couldn’t have been more than 31/32 years of age. She had her left leg, which was swollen to elephantiasis proportions stringed up with a rope. I gathered she had been in that position for about a week prior to my arrival at the room. I also gathered that her discomfiture was the result of an okada accident similar to mine. However, unlike mine, while I was thrown from the okada, and another bike in full speed lightly bashed my head and zoomed off, hers was the result of being thrown from an okada and her left leg was then smashed by an oncoming trailer. Every slight movement was torture for her so much that I, even though just an onlooker, suffered with her in silence. I cried when ever she cried out in pain. Because her pain was so obvious and heartfelt, one could not help but cry with her. That was the most we could do, cry with her. Neither pain killer nor sedition could ease her sufferings. I happen to overhear the doctor’s verdict on her condition; ‘if she will ever walk again, it will be in six months time (with crutches) and then possibly fully (in a year time)’. Chioma was the prayer warrior of the room. Every morning and evening, whenever she had a little respite from her pains, in addition to praying for her the inmates of ward 38, her family, friends and everybody else she could think of, she vehemently rebuked the doctor’s predictions of her condition in prayers.

Meet Mummy Tosin
Mummy Tosin was lying on the bed, across the divide, opposite Chioma’s bed. She looked to be in her late 40’s early 50’s. But she could have been younger if the ravages of illness have not taken its toll on her. I needed no one to diagnose her illness to me. The sight of her told it all. She was hooked up to oxygen for breathing. Lying on her back in bed, her chest was laid bare. She did not even bother to cover up her nudity with a brassier, because (maybe it was her thinking, I cannot know) there was little or nothing to hide. One of her breast had been surgically removed, obviously to stem the spread of the ravaging cancer virus in her body.

Meet Grandma
Grandma was lying on the other side of the room, opposite Anita bed and to the left of mummy Tosin’s bed. The name grandma suggests her age. She was obviously aged, but nonetheless ravaged with illness which was no respecter of persons. I could not guess her illness because the symptoms were varied. Her clean shaven head would suggest to anyone radiation/chemotherapy treatment for terminal cancer, but that was before I saw her monstrously swollen right arm which was for the most part hidden under her bed’s coverlet. The arm was so swollen I could have sworn it was bigger than the width of her trunk. I could also see that her pain was equally intense that it seemed to have robbed her of her voice. Only a soundless moan escaped her occasionally parted lips. What her voice couldn’t produce in pain, her visage produced in grotesque twists and wrinkles of endured pain.

My Fate?
Then a thought suddenly occurred to me. Why was I placed in ward 38? Was ward 38 a kind of last stop for the terminally ill? Looking all around me, I could see people in various stages of terminal illness. And then I was still awaiting the results of a CT scan carried out on my brain because of my head on collision with the okada and subsequent 5 minutes black out. It has been over 24 hours now since the scan was carried out and still no news of the scan result. Or were the doctors telling me the truth? Was there something terminally wrong hence their refusal to divulge the news of the scan to me? Only time will tell. For the time being as I patiently awaited the result, I turned inwards i.e. I went within me to that secret place where only me and my God had access to and like Chioma, I began vehemently to beseech him in prayers.

NB: Although the experience, a real and recent one which happened to the author, all names and numbers used here are fictitious.

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So much more than you can imagine

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When I woke up it was just over 00:00hrs Nigerian time but 02:00hrs Kenyan time. Having gone to bed earlier than usual, I could no longer sleep beyond this hour. Besides, the weather was too chilly for my liking. Thus, I raised my head, stretched my limbs and decided on the next best thing to do – browsing the internet – one of my favorite hobbies.

One of the first pages I opened was the popular social network site “Facebook”. I love to keep abreast with the activities of family, friends, groups and discussion which I follow to.

Browsing the home page, I came about this post from a friend, posted at about 00:26hrs of this morning

Friend’s post “Just had a funny thought….what if the Federal Government decided to evacuate Nigerians living in London due to the unrest????..any takers???”

and the post generated these responses in a few seconds

1. I’ll bet a million quid no one will show up at the pickup points.

2. Lolz…. I would surely hide myself. No electricity in Nigeria.

Initially, I thought theses responses funny and I was almost tempted to add a comment of my own to the tune of

and where exactly does he expects us to live? In the flood ravaged city of Lagos or the Boko Haram streets of northern Nigeria?

but I decided against it at the last minute. Maybe it wasn’t a conscious decision I made not to post the comment because my phone rang at that precise minute, distracting my attention from the post on facebook.

However, on dropping the call, I suddenly had a change of heart about posting my comment. I don’t know what unconscious reaction had triggered the change, but it just so happened that I saw things in a different light.

Yes, quite a large number of Nigerians living abroad would share these same views of never wanting to return to a country where nothing seem to  work out, nothing is certain and where a World Bank 2009 assessment of life expectancy is placed at 48 years.

We all want to be where things and conditions are better for us. No one can blame anyone for this, after-all as we say in Nigerian pidgin “who no like better tin?” meaning “is there anyone who does not like the good things of life?”

However, it is well known that no good thing comes easy. Many of us just seem to forget this fact. Ask any mother newly delivered of a baby and she will confirm this simple yet incomprehensible fact to you. We go to “Sokoto seeking what is actually in our sokoto” – another of Nigerian popular saying meaning “we run from pillars to post seeking what we can find at home”.

Just a two weeks visit to the beautiful city of Nairobi, in Kenya – Eastern Africa confirmed this to me. Here, Nigerians are something of a novelty. Everyone wants to be friendly with you. Why because they are so enamored with the product of our fast growing entertainment industry. Nigerian movies and music are best sellers here. They just love our artists, actors and actresses. On every corner of the street, in night clubs and social events, you hear Nigerian music taking the field. Perhaps it is true when they say a prophet is never appreciated in his hometown.

Moreover, I remember the advances we have made in communication with the introduction of Global System in Mobile communication during the tenure of president Olusegun Obasanjo in the year 2001 and also other advances in internet technology with access to the internet and billions of information now available to millions of Nigerians.

In as much as our craving for life’s goodies would push us to other countries, we must not forget that Rome wasn’t built in a day. We, Nigeria can get and will get there. We just need more people to commit to the movement for change because, I tell you, you have got so much more than you can ever imagine. So why not start utilizing them now?

Beyond Meditation – Going from Passive to Active Thinking

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Beyond meditation is contemplation.

Contemplation is a method that enables you to begin to go out and actively explore the inner worlds of your own being. It is different from meditation, a passive state in which the practitioner goes within and just quietly waits for the light of the other worlds to appear i.e. come to him.

Meditation, is the state in which one clears the mind of all thoughts and sits in passivity awaiting the sought for illumination. It is but a  stage towards contemplation, the ultimate form of prayer.

In contemplation, you go through the same process of meditation, but then you go further. You take control. You empty the mind of all thoughts, then you begin actively to fill the mind with only the thought, image and/or feeling that you desire to experience at that particular moment.

Do not underestimate the power of concentrated thoughts. It has been proven times without number that concentrated thoughts forms have become actions and are still becoming actions i.e. our deeds in life.

Why not take a go at it i.e. active meditation which is actually Contemplation as against passive meditation? – and experience the power of directed (positive) thinking.

A Table for Two

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Over lunch he calmly popped the question: ‘So how are you finding the job?’

‘Not bad’ I replied in between mouthfuls. ‘Everything is still relatively new to me but also very interesting’.

‘Hmmmm’, he murmured, and then added ‘if I may say, I’d add that a lot of the satisfaction comes from the fact that your boss is a very accommodating, well learned individual, who believes strongly in grooming younger officers and equal sharing of information and knowledge. If this were not the case, I’d say you wouldn’t be having so much of a good time on the job as you are having now’.

Take the case of other individuals on the job like you’, he added, ‘they do not seem to be faring as well as you are, due to the fact that their boss is not as accommodating and as open as yours is’.

I was shaking my head vehemently in disagreement as he rounded up his conversation. ‘I strongly disagree I chirped in. My enjoyment of the job is due mostly to the fact that I am passionate about it and more than willing to assist and learn in every task and assignment given to me and not solely because of my well learned, open and knowledge sharing boss’.

Remember the time when you were still in school system’, he quickly cut in trying to defend his position, ‘and when you failed a subject or course, was it not mostly due to the fact that the teacher was not a good one and could not properly pass on the knowledge to the student?’ was this not always the fact?’

Again I was shaking my head before he could finish and quickly spoke up to halt his cutting me off again.

Two years ago, I would have totally agreed with you, but now I hold a different point of view. I think that the individual inability to comprehend a subject has nothing to do with the teacher. Or better put, it has little or nothing to do with the teacher and more and everything to do with the individual.’

I raised my left palm this time to hold off his comments as I proceeded. ‘It all depends on the individual’s initiatives and aptitudes, i.e. one who is ready and willing to learn will learn no matter the situation or circumstances’. Yes in my primary and secondary schooling days, I had always blamed my inability to pass mathematics on the mathematics teacher, and for a while, I got away with this notion’.

But every so often, life seems to bring us face to face with our fears at a point where there is no running away. I was promised a job after my service year that required a credit pass in O’Level mathematics and also an in-depth knowledge of the subject at that fundamental level to succeed on the job. Here, I met my waterloo’.

However, over the course of time, I got someone who was known to be the best tutor there can ever be on the subject. His track record of success and success for the kids he tutored was impeccable, yet even he could not help me. And, unheard of in his history, he pronounced me a hopeless case (not his exact words)’.

It was at that point that I realized that it wasn’t the teachers, or their methods, neither was it the environment – for I had blamed everything under the sun but myself. It was just me, I and myself. And that nobody but I could help myself. I did not get the job eventually, but today I and a proud owner of a distinction in O’Level mathematics all through my singular effort – not a small feat if you knew my history’.

By this time, my lunch mate was quietly listening to me as I proceeded on. ‘So do not tell me about people who do not succeed at a job or on an endeavor due to the unsupportive stance of someone else in their path. If the true desire is to succeed, then succeed you shall no matter the odds’.

‘I cannot really blame you for this attitude’ I added ‘because as I see it, it is a fundamental attitudinal problem of Nigerians. We are always looking for scapegoats to bear the blames for our continual failures and inability to subject ourselves to the rigors required for success and the government has become a ready scapegoat to  blame’.

So tell me now for example, who is to blame for the mass failure of our children in the O’Level examinations? The government for not providing the enabling environment for pupils and not paying teachers enough to motivate them to teach the children better?’

‘Have we however forgotten that no matter how much you teach a child, but that when that same child goes home, and has no one to caution him from watching the television all day and no guidance to see that he does his homework, that he will end up retaining nothing of the knowledge?

Or on the other hand, the child who has no one to fend for him and so spends all day after school hawking one item or the other, while the parents go about producing more of them with never a thought given to their welfare? Who really is to blame here, the government or the people? And if you say the government? Who really is the government?’

Thus, a lunch for two came to an abrupt end.

I miss the things that once were . . .

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I miss the things that once were
The simple beauty of the nights
The delight of a babe’s laughter
The honesty in his eyes
The peace of solitude . . .

Now in the middle of the night
I find no peace in loneliness
I am hunted by the things that once were
Or perhaps, by the things that I thought once were

How did I mistake feebleness for simplicity?
And brute callousness for blunt honesty?
The days have come when roses drop petals – revealing hidden thorns
For the sharp, fine things of pain they are

Alas, stung, I am unrelenting in my search
For like the faint elusive strains of a sweet haunting melody
The things that once were lure me onward, unrelenting in my search
Somehow, alone in the hunt, I am somewhat comforted
Within my heart, I hear whispers saying . . .
That the things that once were, still are, and still will be – if only we believe.

Forever Young

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The thought, ‘who watches over honest, single girls living in Lagos?’ echoed through my head as I strolled from the small shop at the gate towards my modest apartment within the large family compound.

Just as it had popped up, the idle thought fizzled out quietly and I was left wondering what had originally triggered it. A sharp pain from somewhere on my left hand drew my attention downwards to the source of the pain. Distracted by my sudden thought and somewhat disturbed by another nagging one, I had been absent mindedly twisting my middle finger at the place where the wedding band is usually positioned. By so doing, I had worn the flesh sore, thus drawing blood.  A slight shudder ran through me at the delicate implication of my action. Why the suppressed rage?

Suppressed or not, the truth was that I was really disturbed at the genre of conversation that had just transpired between I and the individual at the small shop by the gate and try as much as I might, I could not shake off the feeling that I had somehow triggered the approach and genre of conversation. I was also trying my best to convince myself that the subtle implied meaning I perceived was nonexistent. But deep down, I knew what was being implied.

However, to my reasoning, there was no justification for the implied meaning. I couldn’t find any and I felt sorry that my inopportune situations had made me subject for such intentions. Did I exude a particular aura that provoked these perceive yet unwanted advances? Was my appearance unseemly? Quickly I scrutinized my appearance to verify this claim. I was attired in an ankle length plaid, brown skirt, a cream colored jacket and a darker shade of cream inner camisole. My appearance was nothing less than proper. I felt certain of it.

At the same time, I knew that my appearance had always been decent so I couldn’t have in any way provoked the advances on my own initiatives. Still pondering over the real reason for this, the faint strains of a melody flittered towards my from a neighbor’s window. It was the song “Forever Young” music by Jay-Z feat. Mr. Hudson and the realization suddenly hit me. The real reason for this unsolicited advance: what is it about the adult male that he is forever seeking to perpetuate his youth by continuously seeking out younger and even younger female conquests? Was it an underlying aching need to remain forever young? Maybe it was. Maybe . . .

Building Better Relationships with ‘Commitments’

There are two ways of approach to any thing we do in our life. One is ‘Commitment’ and the other is ‘Attachment’. The journey of these approaches differs for each one.

When we approach anything with attachment, we hang on to our ideas and when failure occurs, we feel as if we have lost something and become frustrated. This is because we are attached to a particular idea. As a result, we experience the failure as personal failure and in our grief miss other options and possibilities for growth.

We feel like we personally lost the battle and that our capabilities and competence were not enough to win. We start worrying and directing every thought, every thing that happens towards the view point that ‘I failed’.

This attached approach drains one of self confidence, energy and creativity.

On the other hand, the ‘Commitment’ approach is committed to the job and  focuses more on the job than on the self. As a  result, when failure occurs, the focus is not on the self saying ‘I failed’, rather it will be on the idea, that ‘the idea failed’. Then we will begin to look for new ideas and if that does not work as well, we try another, and another and yet another, until we succeed. In this manner, creativity flows, energy flow and enthusiasm. Nothing can stop us, not even inferiority complex.

That’s the power in approaching things from the ‘Commitment’ point of view rather than the ‘Attachment’ view point

Likewise, our approach towards Relationship has the same two aspects. When we are attached to a relationship, our experience will be disappointment, dissatisfaction, frustration, pain etc,. In short, self expression, power and freedom will be missing in that relationship due to attachment.

Shifting from attachment to commitment will take the relationship to a whole new level, one full of self-expression, power and freedom. With commitment, be sure to expect a Breakthrough in your Relationship!

 

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NB: Edited Version. Original version by https://www.facebook.com/rajesheck

ON-GOING RESPONSE BY DANA AIR TO THE TRAGIC ACCIDENT OF JUNE 3, 2012

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“Our entire management and the over 450 staff of Dana Air wish to express our profound appreciation to you for your prayers and enquiries since the tragic accident of Sunday, June 3, 2012 in which all 153 guests and crew on board Dana Air aircraft, with registration number 5N-RAM, and 4 residents of Iju-Ishaga community lost their lives.

* As operators of the aircraft, we have been in shock since the incident. We would like to first of all extend our deepest condolences and sympathies to the families and friends of those who lost their lives. It is so painful and we are still hurting like all households across Nigeria. We too lost friends, as well as some of our best crew, on the ill-fated flight.

* At this time, all of the senior management team of Dana Air are focused on providing assistance to the families, and also full cooperation to the authorities carrying out investigations into the cause of the accident. As yet, the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) has not shared with us any of the information that it has due to it being an ongoing exercise, and as a result we are limited in the facts that we can provide. However, we are doing everything within our power to ensure that the facts are thoroughly investigated and appropriate action taken to ensure such a tragedy can never happen again.

* Following the incident, Standard Airline Emergency Response Procedures were initiated and an information hotline and family support centres were immediately established. Crisis Management Centres have since been set up by the airline in Lagos and Abuja to offer support and counselling to all affected, and toll-free numbers and other contact details have been circulated and announced for families to contact for information and assistance.

On the identification and release of bodies to the families, Dana Air continues to engage with the Lagos State Government and the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) to expedite the process as much as possible so that families can lay their loved ones to rest. As per update from LASUTH on Friday, 22nd June, 98% of DNA samples had been sent to a UK laboratory for testing and more samples will be sent by Wednesday, 4th July. So far, 22 bodies have been properly identified and released to the families.

While we appreciate that no amount of compensation can make up for any of the precious lives lost, the airline is fully prepared to honour itsduty to the families of the departed as stipulated by the law governing tragedies such as this. To facilitate the completion of claims forms, and prompt payment of benefits to the affected families, we had established dedicated toll-free lines to the Crisis Management Centre to provide assistance. The company will continue to provide this service until all claims have been addressed and settled.

* At present, the airline has made direct contact with 119 of the 120 families who lost loved ones in the accident, and is also in contact with the 9 embassies managing communications with the families of the foreign nationals involved. These families and embassies have been sent letters of condolence and subsequent communication about the insurance documentation necessary in order to facilitate compensation payments. As at the close of business on Tuesday, July 3, the company had received completed insurance forms from 68 families (4 of which are our staff members) and cheques for interim benefits have been issued to 9 claimants, following legal verification of documentation and next of kin status. The company is in contact with all other families who have submitted relevant documents to Dana Air’s Crisis Management Centre (CMC) in Lagos and Abuja, and has advised that they come forward to the Chambers of Yomi Oshikoya & Co, appointed by the insurers in Lagos, in order to conclude advance payment formalities. Dana Air is aware andperfectly understands and respects that most of the next of kin or legal representatives who submitted documents, or are yet to visit the CMC and submit documentations to us, are still observing the customary mourning period. Advance payment claims will be concluded on a case by case basis as and when claimants find it convenient to come forward.

* Dana Air is leaving no stone unturned towards the rehabilitation of the displaced Iju-Ishaga residents. The airline had provided relief materials to all affected residents and, in conjunction with the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), had made advanced efforts towards securing accommodation for the families. On Tuesday, 3rd July, the airline presented cheques to seven severely affected families to secure accommodation, as a palliative measure. The decision to monetize the gesture was based on the request by the affected families at a meeting between them and Dana Air officials on Thursday, 28th June, 2012. The company continues to maintain contact with these families, as well as other residents who are affected in varying degrees, and has given assurances that adequate compensation will be paid to them as soon as possible; updates on steps being taken will be provided to all affected persons and/or their representatives on a regular basis.

* Once again, on behalf of everyone at Dana Air, allow us to extend our deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims of this tragic accident. Our prayers and thoughts are with them forever.

* Dana Air will continue to offer the families assistance, and will provide further updates when possible.

Helplines

24 hour assistance contact numbers for families are:

LAGOS: 01-2809888, 08052697500 & 08077291288.

ABUJA: 07044213849 & 07026672145.

Toll-free numbers have been opened at 0809 993 7312, 0809 993 7313, 0809 993 7314 for calls within Nigeria.

NB: We ask journalists not to call these numbers, which are reserved for families and close relatives.

Dana Air Management”

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