The Future in Her Hands (2)

The university was quiet when she arrived on Sunday at noon. She entered the Catholic church by the gate and sat down on the seat at the back of the church. Later in the day as she went out to look around, she noticed students were already coming in with their luggage. She took her Ghana-must-go and headed in the direction where she saw the cars with the luggage going, which she learned was where the hostels were located and where would later become her home for the next 6years. The hostel provision store was open when she got there, and she was thirsty. She walked into the store to buy a sachet of water, she was drinking the water greedily when a chubby girl walked into to the store to buy soft drinks. She introduced herself as Tina and asked her if she was living in the hostel too. Chiadi told her she just got admission and she didn’t have a hostel yet. Tina then invited her to stay in her room as her roommates were not coming back till the upper week and by then a hostel would have been assigned to her.

Tina she later learned was a 2nd-year medical student, who would later become her best friend over the years and, would be there for her during all her troubles and her success, giving her words of encouragement. She would also sit in the crowd with Chief Osita who later took an interest in her life and became the father she never had and cheered when she got the award for the best graduating student in the school of medicine and got several offers from the best hospitals in the city.

1st year and the 2nd year where the hardest for Chiadi as she had to adjust to city life. Living on a little stipend that was barely enough to cover her feeding, talk about buying other necessities. There were some days she went without eating because there wasn’t enough money to eat, buy textbooks and work on assignments at the same time. It was during her 3rd year when her performance report had gotten to her sponsor Chief Osita who could not believe such a genius existed, decided to pay her a visit. After hearing her story, he took it upon himself to make sure she never lacked anything. He would invite her to his home during holidays and breaks, his wife was a wonderful woman, who treated her like the daughter she never had. They opened their home to her, and she never had to go back to the house which was never a home.

It was Chief Osita who after she graduated with the best result had told her to choose any university of her choice abroad to further her education if she wanted. She has chosen to further her studies in the UK and he happily sponsored her. She made sure she didn’t disappoint by coming out the top of her class. She had come to see Chief Osita as the father she never had and would be forever grateful for the many opportunities he had given her.  Chief Osita was overjoyed when his son who had a thing for her from the first time he saw her, asked for her hand in marriage.

She thought he was crazy when Osita Junior asked her out, even though he hadn’t been around much, he had grown to love the woman she had become and he wanted to be a part of her life. Chiadi had argued that she wasn’t ready for marriage and he had insisted that he would be there to support her dreams and would not stop her from achieving her goals. He went on to shower her with so much love, gifts and, attention that at the end of the day he won her over. He was a smart, caring and loving man. He understood her dreams and Chiadi fell in love with him.

She had wondered what it will feel like going back to the village and facing her aunt again after years of being away. Chief Osita had assured her that there was nothing to worry about and they were all going to be with her on that day. She will never forget the look on her aunt’s face when she ran out to see the fine luxury cars parked outside her compound on the day she and her fiancé Osita junior and his relatives, had arrived in the village to seek their consent to marry her. She had seen her peeping through the faded curtains to see who it was and what they were doing in her compound. Chiadi was sad when she learned her uncle had died years ago after a brief illness. She never got to repay him for the kindness he had shown her and in years to come she would honor his memory by building a hospital in his name.

Her aunt was dumbfounded. Chiadi had changed so much and even spoke with so much sophistication, that she almost pinched her to make sure she was real. She couldn’t believe her eyes.  Chiadi caught her staring at her countless times and the only thing she could think of was that she looked old and worn out. Her aunt had shamefully collected her bride price and other gift items and have been marveled when she sent them a flight ticket to attend the white wedding months after.

Years later Chiadi will tell her daughters her story and encouraged them to take their fate into their hands and decide that what they want to be. She would let them know that she didn’t allow any obstacle or anyone stand in the way of her dream, she had done whatever it took to make it. She would later become an inspiration to young girls who wanted to become something in life. She received many awards and recognition and her name became a household name. Her story became one to be told to young girls who refused to go to school.


The Future in Her Hands (1)

Chiadi listened as the rain poured heavily on the roof, the rhythm sounded like the beating of drums at the village square during the new yam festival. She sat with her legs folded on the mat and leaned against the wall. She prayed the rain will keep the suitors from coming for her hand today. She didn’t want to get married, she wanted to go to the university and become a doctor. She had passed her senior secondary exam and her jamb exams with flying colors and had secured admission at the City university which had always been her dream.

Her success didn’t come as a surprise; everybody knew she has always been a bright child. Her teachers in school not only sang her praise, they loved her because she was beautiful, smart and always eager to learn. She also passed the local government scholarship exam which was given by the richest man in the village Chief Osita Okafor. She was so happy about this and had already started packing her bags to resume school when her aunt told her that they have found a husband for her and they were coming to pay her bride price. She was 19 and she didn’t have any interest in getting married which she told her aunt, who had called her an ungrateful child. She had taken her in after the death of her sister who got pregnant out of wedlock and died in childbirth, leaving Chiadi all alone. She accused her of not being thankful that they had put her through primary and secondary school and not being content. If she got married to Thomas Obi,  the rich trader from the neighboring village, she will help out at his shops and also pay them back for raising her.

Chiadi never met her real parents, her mother had died giving birth to her and her mother’s sister, her aunt had taken up the responsibility of raising her, as her mother got pregnant outside wedlock and there was no other person to do so and she did not have a choice. She reminded Chiadi of this almost every day which made her feel as if it was her fault her mother died. The best time she ever had was in school, she loved going to school and she never missed it for anything. Even when she was sick, she kept quiet and suffered in silence as she didn’t want to stay at home and be with her aunt who would accuse her of being sick in order to make her spend her hard end money. So she will keep quiet and bear the pains to avoid these accusations. She would never forget the first day she got her period, she had stained the worn out sitting room sofa. She didn’t know what was happening to her and she was scared. She got a beating from her aunt, who never cared to explain to her what it was and was more concerned about her stained sofa. That was the day she also got banned from ever sitting on the sitting room sofa, her place was on the floor.

According to her aunt, she had no right to have dreams and aspirations. She was a girl and getting married and bearing children was what her dreams should be about and what she was born for, but her aunt was wrong. She had seen most girls her age get married off. While some went willingly, some went in tears, other lucky ones who thought they found love danced with joy on their wedding day. But that wasn’t Chiadi’s dream, she had known what she wanted right from the start. Her dream is to change lives, save lives, she wanted to have a career, and become an independent woman like the women she watched on the TV and read about when her aunt was not home. Marriage was not for her right now, it was not the time.

She had met with Chief Osita the day they awarded her the scholarship, it covered her tuition and accommodation till she finished the university and also a stipend every month for food and upkeep. All she needed to do was to report at the university with the scholarship letter given to her. She had hidden the letter at the bottom of her tattered Ghana-must-go bag as she didn’t tell her aunt about the scholarship. Her worry was that if they married her off, she won’t be able to go to school and become like all the powerful, independent women she dreamt to be. She made up her mind to run to the city, she had saved enough money from the little pocket money her uncle was kind enough to give her for transportation when she was still in secondary school as her school was quite a distance from where they lived. She will board the local bus to school and walk back home after school. Her aunty had never promised to send her to the university but she always assumed that she will since her eldest son was already studying there. The news of the marriage came as a surprise as they never discussed it with her. She had seen the look of sympathy on her uncle’s face when her aunt broke the news to her, but there was nothing he could do as it seemed the wife was always in charge.

Her uncle was not a bad man, but he had little say in what happened to her. He and her aunt would always quarrel whenever he tried to intervene, so he would keep quiet or walk away whenever her aunt was treating her badly. He would give her some money behind her aunt’s back but he didn’t earn much so there was nothing he could do, her aunt was the breadwinner of the family and he was a man that didn’t like trouble or just a coward.

The rain was still falling heavily as she stood up to go and warm the soup her aunty had made for her suitor and his people during the day, it was almost sunset and she knew they will not be coming again.  Her aunt came into the kitchen to tell her that her husband and his people will be coming tomorrow as the rain had spoilt the already bad road. When she left, Chiadi sat on the kitchen stool and cried, she cried for her mother who had left her in this miserable world, she cried for her future which was unknown, and which she has decided to take into her own hands. There was no waiting for tomorrow, she had to leave that night, she thanked God for bringing the rain and prayed that her plan will work.

That night, while everybody slept, she stuffed her belongings into a bigger Ghana-must-go bag she had bought from the small shop down the street and snuck out of the house. She will catch the first bus to the city and head to the university which will be resuming the day after tomorrow. She walked down the quiet dark street into the night, determination hardened her heart and kept her from being afraid. She had walked this same part to the market, which also served as the bus park since she was a little girl, so she knew exactly where to place her steps. As she walked she kept looking back to make sure nobody followed her. Once she got to the market, she entered into one of the open stalls, lay down on one of the benches and used her bag as a makeshift pillow. She would catch some sleep and wake up at first light to join the bus to the city, she will be halfway to the city before they noticed she was gone, for the first time in weeks, a smile touched her lips before she fell asleep.

Why Do We Settle?

He said, “She’s not everything I want in a woman, I am marrying her because out of the ladies I have met and I have dated, she’s the one that comes close to having most of the qualities I want”.

“I never thought I would settle down with a chubby girl. I always wanted a cute, tall and not too chubby girl, someone smart”.

“So why settle?” I asked.

“Don’t get me wrong, I love my fiancée but you can’t find everything you want in one woman”. It’s just not possible.

“And you don’t think, she’s lacking a whole lot from all that you have just mentioned?” I ask again, this time slightly taken aback that he didn’t see anything wrong with what he was saying.

“Naa…you are my speck you know”, he replied.

I thought to myself, this is the reason why most marriages fall apart. He’s going to marry a woman he thinks is not good enough for him. If she/he is not everything you would want in a woman/man, why settle? First, we need to know that, If you don’t know what you deserve, you’ll always settle for less. You will wander aimlessly, uncomfortably numb in your comfort zone, wondering how life has ended up here. I know no one is perfect but is this not managing? She lacks some of those things he knows are important in the qualities of his dream woman but he feels it doesn’t matter since he can get the rest outside. His wedding date is set, he is already hitting on another woman and like he said, “he loves his wife to be”. What happened to vows? What sort of love is this? If you manage a relationship, will you also manage your marriage? It’s not a business you are venturing into, it’s life, it’s a lifetime. You can’t possibly manage your marriage for a lifetime, can you?

 I can tell you what this marriage will be like. It will be a man who settled for less than he thought he deserved, who will end up cheating on his wife, and at a point might not even find her attractive anymore. It will be a woman who will end up unhappy because the husband will not give her the attention and love she thinks she deserves, she might seek to find fulfillment and happiness in other ways. The marriage might end up becoming a failure. After all, it was shaky right from the start.

I read somewhere that, a husband or wife and kids change your life, makes you more grounded or even ties you down. What people miss sometimes is the wrong spouse, the proper kind of wrong; they do the same just as hard. Knowing he/she is wrong and still go ahead with it means you have settled, made your bargain: wherever you are together, this is as far as you are going, ever. This is your stop; this is where you get off.

Why do we do it? Settle for less than we deserve? The greatest temptation you will ever have in your life is to give up on what you truly want because it seemed too difficult to find ore even when you do find it, you can’t have it. Do we settle out of fear that we will end up alone? Do we settle because we are scared that if we leave the person we are with, we will never find love again? You know, breakups have a way of shaking us awake and helping us see what we really want versus what we are willing to settle for. Ask yourself, what you feel, is it even love? Do we do settle because of security or comfort? Money can make one do a lot of crazy things. What is the motive? Are you under pressure? Pressure is a powerful thing. Like Robert Mckee said, “True character is revealed in the choices a human being makes under pressure – the greater the pressure, the deeper the revelation, the truer the choice to the character’s essential nature.”

You know, when we have waited a long time for what we really want, we become tempted to fill the emptiness with unworthy substitutes- don’t. Do not even try to. Yes, time is passing and it seems like everyone is way ahead, but the free time is not actually wasted time. You are living, you are learning, you are growing and that’s one of the best ways to live. Do not let the space for what you want to get filled with what you settled for.

I do not want to settle for someone mediocre, I want someone who makes me a better person and who makes me do awesome things, some who pushes me to be the best part of me. Someone that loves me as much as I love him or even more. I want it all. Don’t you? Let’s live by the words of Shannon Alder, “Too many people spend their lives in fear of making a mistake. However, here is the truth: Fear is the mistake. If you block out all the doubts and listen only to what you feel in your heart, then follow that course, you waste less time in indecision and spend more time being authentic. Life is too short to settle for part-time happiness.”

Often people that settle in life are those that only do what they can with what they have and where they are. Never settle for someone that didn’t know your worth from the beginning. Never build a life without God in it. Years from now make sure you can say that you Chose your life, you didn’t Settle for it.


A Woman’s World

If you have a daughter, teach her to love, tell her she’s special, let her know she can do whatever she sets her mind on, always remind her that no one is more important than herself. Like Paul Tough said, ‘“What matters most in a child’s development, they say, is not how much information we can stuff into her brain in the first few years. What matters, instead, is whether we are able to help her develop a very different set of qualities, a list that includes persistence, self-control, curiosity, conscientiousness, grit, and self-confidence.” Believe me when I say, she would need all these to be great.


What is it about women that makes us so complicated? They say nobody can ever understand a woman, funny, I don’t believe that’s true. The thing is, the world made us this way, as a woman, to be heard you basically have to fight. We fought to be counted, we fought to work and earn a living, we fought to be taken seriously, we fought for everything and till today, we are still fighting to be seen as equal. We are strong and we don’t give up. According to Clare Luce, “Because I am a woman, I must make unusual efforts to succeed. If I fail, no one will say, “She doesn’t have what it takes.” They will say, “Women don’t have what it takes.” 

Why treat your son in a different way than you treat your daughter? Why does he get to have more pocket money? Or get to further his education and…

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A Woman’s World

What is it about women that makes us so complicated? They say nobody can ever understand a woman, funny, I don’t believe that’s true. The thing is, the world made us this way, as a woman, to be heard you basically have to fight. We fought to be counted, we fought to work and earn a living, we fought to be taken seriously, we fought for everything and till today, we are still fighting to be seen as equal. We are strong and we don’t give up. According to Clare Luce, “Because I am a woman, I must make unusual efforts to succeed. If I fail, no one will say, “She doesn’t have what it takes.” They will say, “Women don’t have what it takes.” 

Why treat your son in a different way than you treat your daughter? Why does he get to have more pocket money? Or get to further his education and go for a masters degree,?but your once your daughter earns a bachelor’s degree, you are all hands off, the next questions is, Don’t you think you should be looking to settle down and have children? Who says it has to be that way? My father has always been someone I admire. Growing up, he always treated my brothers and me equally, to the point that one time, he bought my brothers a toy gun and he bought one for me too. My mum was livid, but all he said was, “If they can shoot, so can she”. So shooting I did, and I did it really good. I am not advising that you buy toy guns for your kids though, let’s keep them as far away from violence as possible, the world has become a crazy place.

If you have a daughter, teach her to love, tell her she’s special, let her know she can do whatever she sets her mind on, always remind her that no one is more important than herself. Like Paul Tough said, ‘“What matters most in a child’s development, they say, is not how much information we can stuff into her brain in the first few years. What matters, instead, is whether we are able to help her develop a very different set of qualities, a list that includes persistence, self-control, curiosity, conscientiousness, grit, and self-confidence.” Believe me when I say, she would need all these to be great. 

A woman is strong, just like a teabag, – you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water. I know a woman, a strong woman, a confident woman, an independent woman, a single mother who had been all by herself for as long as I can remember.  Who says you can’t stand strong all by yourself if you have to. “You do not always have to follow the rules, break the rules sometimes or write your own rules”, my friend Chinyere will say. Sarah Dessen wrote in the book ‘along for the ride’, “you don’t have only do the debutante thing like they want you to. Or just take up pageants instead of riding jump bikes with a bunch of grungy boys. Tell them you can do both. Who says you have to be either smart or pretty, or into girly stuff or sports? Life shouldn’t be about the either/or. We’re capable of more than that, you are capable of more than that.”

Now people will say women are confusing, and sometimes we don’t know when to stop. The truth is, everyone gets confused once in a while, all you need to do is, stop for a moment, focus and think, you will figure it out.  We do know what we want, but that’s not what we are after. “You are not supposed to understand a woman. That’s not what she’s after…. She doesn’t want you to understand her. She knows that’s impossible. She just wants you to understand yourself. Everything else is negotiable.” I didn’t say this, Neil Stephenson did, and he is correct.

You know, the world will be a boring place without women. Easier maybe, with little or no drama, but what’s the fun in easy. We love really fast, and we hate with the same passion. We overlook some things and act ignorant, but trust that we know. We are built to last, to fall and get back on our feet. It’s in you as a woman, never let anyone tell you otherwise. 

Now there’s this quote that says, “what a man can do a woman can do more better”, it is not a competition, life shouldn’t be one. Instead, it should be “what a man can do, a woman can equally do”. We want to live and exist the same way every other human does, we want to be seen, heard and taken seriously. We don’t want to be judged because you are not God, and you are not perfect either. We just want to be allowed to be ourselves, nothing less.

Remember, there’s nothing more beautiful than a woman who has found herself!

Moving On

I sat at on the high stool at the bar and wondered what the heck I was doing there dressed like I was. I was putting on a strapless red chiffon blouse that fitted my shapely body tucked into a high waist black pencil skirt and black court shoes. I have let my hair down and my makeup was impeccable. The looks I got when I walked in proved to me that my effort and time I took dressing up was not in vain. I noticed the bar was not so crowded but it wasn’t empty either. I noticed two good-looking gentlemen in well-tailored black suit seated at the end of the bar engaged in what looked like an argument. Both of them had stopped as I sat down at the bar and was signaling the barman. The good-looking one amongst them spotting a trimmed beard gave me a nod and raised his glass to me, as I caught his eyes. I blushed and looked away. I threw a glance there way again to make sure he wasn’t looking and then I took my time to study him.

Kay noticed the lady that was studying him at the end of the bar. He had seen her when she walked into the bar. She was tall, Her red top had a low V-neck that emphasized a well-shaped breast and her figure was stunning. Her black skirt clung to her like a second skin and emphasized her shapely hips and legs that seemed to go on forever. He also noticed that his friend he was talking to had stopped to follow his gaze and most of the men in the bar were looking. She had the look of a confident woman and the way she carried herself was almost sexual, everyone seemed to be affected. He had caught her looking at him and even now as he wasn’t looking, he could feel her gaze. He and his best friend Ben had been arguing about the fact that he couldn’t keep a girl for more than two months. Ben had bet him money to keep a girl for at least two months before the mysterious woman in red walked in. In his mind this would be the one when he had tipped his glass to her, Ben gave him a knowing smile.

I had come into that bar with one thought and my girlfriend’s voice in my head, “You should try to get him out of your mind Linda”. The thing is, how can you get a guy out of your mind when you are still in love with him. Since my break up with Sam, it seemed I haven’t able to meet a guy without finding faults in him after one month or so. I decided I needed a fling, a one night stand more like it, meet a cute guy, have crazy, mind-blowing sex with no strings attached and under a false name and leave. The devilishly good-looking guy at the end of the bar looked like someone I could do that with. The way his suit molded his body and the way he had tipped his glass to me spoke of confidence and I decided that was it, he was the one. As I was busy checking him out, he lifted his eyes and met mine again. Then I felt his eyes go down, all the way to my shoes and he boldly brought it back to look me in my eyes again, making my toes curl. He made it pretty clear to me that he wasn’t hiding that he liked what he saw.

I was still trying to figure out my next move when my phone buzzed. It was an Instagram message from Cary my girlfriend. She had sent me a picture of Sam and his latest girlfriend and she tagged it, ‘get him out of your mind and move on’. I decided to place one last call to Sam, but I needed to go outside to make this call. My battery was almost flat and I hoped my phone would stay on long enough for me to make a call. I needed something stronger so I ordered two shots of Tequila, this will boost my confidence.

I downed my glass of Tequila in one straight gulp, paid the barman, picked up my purse and started walking out. Something told me the guy that had been staring at me was going to follow me and it was right. I stepped out into the night and started walking towards where I had parked my car, I felt a presence and footsteps behind me. I stopped, and turned so fast that I almost ran into him.

“Leaving so fast?” he asked.

I smiled and asked, “Are you following me?”

“No, I just thought I’d get some fresh air and then there you were”, he responded with a slight grin on his face. He was really good-looking I thought, and tall…so tall he was almost intimidating. There was this look to him like an air of authority. I found it enchanting.

“I am going home, it’s almost midnight”.

He paused briefly, looked me up and down and with one brow slightly raised up, he asked, “Do you want to go somewhere?” He looked like no one had ever turned him down in his life and besides – I did want to go with him. First I needed to make that phone call.

“Give me one minute”, I need to end Sam’s chapter of my life, I thought to myself.

The phone rang and rang and I hoped it will go straight to voicemail but Sam’s very familiar voice came on the line. Only a single hello got my heart racing and I almost hung up but I mustered courage and responded, “hi Sam”.

“How have you been?” he asked. Like he cared I thought as I responded that I was okay.

I looked over at where the cute guy from the bar stood to wait, and I thought to myself, “maybe it could be more than a one night stand”. I realized Sam had been talking all the while I had been lost in thought.

“Why did you call Linda?” I heard him ask.

“Well, I wanted to hear your voice one last time, and to tell you that I am moving on”.

My phone beeped, signaling it will soon die and I thought I heard him let out a long sigh, and then he responded, “I have to go Linda”.

“I love you Sam”, but before I could hear a response my phone died.

I sighed, put my phone in my bag and turned to follow what will be my rebound for a very long time.


Voter’s Card Palaver

In Nigeria, the process of getting a voter’s card is tiring. It is like they specifically made it so stressful so that people will not vote. In this 21st century, one would have expected them to not complicate such a routine task. Not only is it really stressful for the average citizen to go through their process or lack of one, it becomes doubly complicated for people that work 8am to 5pm daily. From lack of electricity to petrol scarcity, to rumored impending toll fare hike of over 100%, etc. Could it be that hell is actually on earth? Were we born to suffer? I ask this because it seems everything that is supposed to come to the masses, one way or the other tends not to, you always have to struggle to get your entitlement.

Here’s a brief summary of the process. First, you start by writing your name on a piece of paper that will be transferred to the main book (Book!!! believe me it’s all still very manual) and then you are told to come back after a few days to get the form and get your details captured. I left work earlier than usual on Tuesday to get this done, knowing deep down that I was in for the battle of Mozanga. I already knew it would entail such long processes and waiting times that would make me want to strangle someone. Imagine my surprise when the young man at the registration center told us that the only thing we could do that day was to write our names on that very ‘important’ paper and come back again. Writing your name isn’t even a guarantee because a lady we met said she had been coming back daily with no hope of being attended to. My question was, “what happens if this paper gets missing” before they transfer the names to the main book of life?” I guess one would have to return to write their name on another piece of paper and start the process all over again. Funny again, how we make things more difficult than they should be. I decided to leave as soon as loud arguments ensued between one of the people and the registration staff, after which the registration team threatened to put an end to registration for the day. I really don’t blame them; if the country were better, they wouldn’t be sitting in a stuffy primary school, without power and have multitudes breathing down their necks, performing a task that would have been made easier than it has been shaped out to be.

One would have thought that with the flock of IT startup companies and young Nigerian entrepreneurs who are IT geniuses they would have designed a site or an app that would enable people to capture their details online, submit and shorten this process. This way INEC would not have to do so much work and the masses wouldn’t have to be stressed out from a simple procedure. Is it that no one thought of it? Is this not a way that would have helped? Or am I just lamenting for nothing? Does no one think there is another way to make getting this card easier? Because this time I really want to vote as every election is determined by the people who show up. Like Lincoln said, elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.”

Notwithstanding the struggle and the fight to get this almighty voter card, we shall get it and we shall vote because “elections belong to the people”. We can’t afford to sit on any more blisters when the ones we have are not totally healed. According to Suzy Kaseem, “Our freedoms are vanishing. If you do not get active to take a stand now against all that is wrong while we still can, then maybe one of your children might elect to do so in the future when it will be far riskier — and much, much harder.” We need to start now, make things easier and much better for the future generation.