The Red Purse

I searched and searched my bag but my purse wasn’t there, I had put it in there I was very sure. Was I really entirely sure I did? I had left in a hurry.  By this time, the Keke rider was staring at me like I had grown horns. Normally I give off a cool, calculated, no-nonsense vibe, but not right now; anyone that looks at me will think I have gone mad. The contents of my bag were on the Keke seat as I picked them one by one and returned them to my bag while I kept muttering to myself. One would think I was searching for a particle, while I was really looking for a medium-sized red purse. I already knew the moment I peeped-in to retrieve money to pay for my ride that it wasn’t there.

I had left the house in a hurry hoping the crazy person was not following me. The crazy person was my husband and I believe he was trying to kill me. First, he had mistakenly swapped my asthma medication with his pain pills, he told me it was a mistake, but I doubt it. I had allergies for days and complained my pills weren’t working till I took a closer look a few days ago. Two days later, he added peanut butter to my sandwich, he knew very well that I am totally allergic nuts.  This morning, he left water all over the bathroom floor; I slipped and almost fell to my death. Then, when I returned from work he was cooking. My husband really wanted to kill me.

It all started two weeks ago after I told him I wanted a. See, my husband married me out of pity, I think. I thought I was in love with him but I was wrong, I was just in love with who I thought he was. We met at a bar a year ago, on my 27th birthday, he was hot and smart and I couldn’t help but fall for him. After we had sex, he lost interest. Weeks later I discovered I was pregnant. Word mysteriously spread and his family insisted that we marry. I totally adored him so I didn’t mind, but now I realize that was the biggest mistake of my life; to marry a man that did not love me. I had an okay job, and I prayed and searched for a better one. It didn’t help that I found myself in a loveless and emotionally abusive marriage. I lost my baby four months into the marriage and I felt like I lost myself too. Two months later I won a raffle draw worth N15,000,000. It was like God was compensating me and had given me an out, so I decided to leave the marriage. I was drained and couldn’t take it anymore. My husband had a different idea; to kill me and keep the money. I overheard him talking to someone on the phone about my money and how he couldn’t wait to get his hands on it. So I ran….

Tonight, I had returned and my husband was bent over the cooker preparing God knows what… A man that had never prepared any meal in our entire 8 months of marriage! He smiled at me as I got in and told me dinner would be ready in a couple of minutes, but I should go freshen up first. That was when I knew I had to run, I couldn’t afford to stay under the same roof with this evil man any longer. I was scheduled to go claim my N15,000,000 in the morning and I knew his plan was to get it on my behalf, dead or alive. So I got to the bedroom, stuffed a top and trousers in my handbag, took some cash I had hidden in the drawer and dashed out through the front door. I didn’t take the car because I realized he would hear when I turned the engine on. Fortunately, the lazy guard wasn’t at the gate, I believe my husband had told him to keep an eye on me.

Immediately I stepped out of the gate and walked for a few seconds, I saw this Keke and boarded. It was when I got to my stop that I realized I had left my red purse. That red purse contains almost everything, including my raffle ID number that I will need to claim my money tomorrow. My husband had called like a hundred times when he realized I had gone. He won’t know I left because I didn’t take anything so he might assume I went down the street to buy something, I imagined. So, I thought of a plan. I called him and in a low, pained voice, I told him I had gone to buy sanitary pad and a car had hit me and someone was driving me to the hospital. He said he would meet me at the hospital and hung up. I begged the Keke rider to take me back and I would pay him whatever he wanted.

I got home and pushed the gate open, the security man was still nowhere to be found. I rushed into the house and ran upstairs to the bedroom, I looked on the bed but the purse wasn’t here… It wasn’t on the dresser either. I looked in the wardrobe and under the bed, still nothing. Then I noticed my husband leaning on the door, holding my purse up in his hands and the kitchen knife in the other. “Looking for this?” he asked with an evil glint in his eye. His car wasn’t parked inside the compound when I entered so I wondered where he came from. He told me how he knew I was lying and that I was going to run away. His plan had been just to incapacitate me, but now it seems he would have to kill me. Then he launched at me with the knife, and then I heard a gunshot. I thought I had been shot, till I saw him stagger and fall at my feet, while the security man looking at me remorsefully as he put his gun down. I didn’t even know he owned or carried a gun. The lazy security man, the last person I expected to be of any use whatsoever… He came to my aid,  he saved my life.

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The Street Before Mine

The street before mine feels like something out of a movie. Its filled with colorful, dramatic and crazy people. Now, it doesn’t help that just along the road, off the street is a market. A loud, dirty, crazy market filled with even more crazy people. The street before mine is what the righteous people will call worldly. It comes to live mostly in the night at 7:00pm, colorful lights can be seen from the houses, blue, green, red… loud music can be heard, ladies; dark, tall, fat, slim, any body type at all, can be seen parading on the street, and it stays that way up till like 7:00am. So when I walk past most morning, I always take my time so I can take it whichever drama they were showing. This morning, a preacher decided to stand strategically in the midst of the crazy to preach and, guess what? the colorful people weren’t so happy about it.

I live in the part of Lagos that is referred to as the Island, down the road off the street is a beach. It used to be a lovely beach, filled with palm trees, shades, and fine sand. It used to be a place I used to enjoy wasting my time, but not anymore. It seems the land had been sold and the last time I went there, the palm trees had been cut down, there were no shades anymore and it was being landfilled. It was ruined. Anyway, that’s not what we are here to discuss, we are talking about the street before mine and so far, you can see I live in a quite colorful environment. I bet if you pull up a chair and watch, you will be quite entertained, almost like going to the Cinema, I don’t advise that though.

I remember the day a friend of mine was visiting. She called to say she was a few minutes away but when she didn’t show up after 15minutes, we were worried. The next thing, my phone rang and when I picked, her voice sounded really horrified. “I think I am lost in a crazy place”, she blurted in a very low voice, immediately I said hello. She had mistakenly entered the street before mine, it was around past 7pm and as I said, that’s exactly when I heard the street comes to life. She was lost and couldn’t find my house and the way she described where she was and what she was seeing, I almost told her she wasn’t even around my vicinity, but then, she had been to my house before. So I asked, “did you enter the first or second street?” Turns out sister entered the first street, and after we were able to figure it out, she eventually found my house. Now my friend has a knack for being dramatic, so her story might have been greatly exaggerated but then, It matched the ones I have heard before she came with hers. I was so intrigued that I decided one day, someday, I would have to go check it out. What can I say, I hope it won’t be a case of curiosity kills the cat though.

So as I walked out very early this morning, enjoying the feel of the morning air on my skin and letting my mind wander as I take in my surrounding, I passed the street before mine, I almost passed without noticing, till I heard some really loud colorful words being used carelessly and really loudly by the ladies of the street. The Preacher from one of those new generation churches stood at the entrance of this street, the stores were still closed I saw, but there was this house where the colorful ladies of the street came out from, few of them were scantily clothed, parading around like they didn’t have a care in the world. A really slim lady in bum shorts that could pass and panties was bent by the drainage brushing her teeth, while another fatter one, walked past the front of the pastor, cursing him very loudly in pidgin English.

Now, I couldn’t stay and watch the end of the drama, but I saw more ladies come out to where the preacher stood, still the preacher persisted in a loud voice. I thought to myself as I walked past, I hope they don’t beat you, Mr. Preacher, you have some balls. It’s a free world after all and the preacher is free to preach, but is it right to target your preaching to a particular person or group of people? It feels more like judging and no one has the right to judge. Standing there also and making the preaching only about fornication and adultery seemed really personal, more like calling them out. I do not know what happened at the end, but I hope the preacher is okay.

The street before mine is quite interesting, like a marketplace except not just goods are sold. I have passed there in the afternoon a few times to get to my house, but till I get the nerve to walk through the street on a very good night, I will settle for just the intriguing stories I have heard from people who have been and you shall settle for hearing from me, unless you want to come see for yourself.

Miracles Do Happen

I threw the door open and there he stood looking at me as if I had horns on my head. “You sent me a message”, he blurted out. This stranger was the most beautiful man I had ever seen. “Or rather, I got a message that I was supposed to come here, this is No.4 God’s time Street, right? he asked, “Yes”, I replied, looking surprised, I wondered who he was and what he was doing in my house. “Well, you called and I came, my name is Jeremiah, I am your guardian angel and I am here to save you from yourself.

My name is Jane and I live in No.4 God’s Time Lane. A couple of hours ago, for the first time in four years, I finished saying my rosary. I have always felt something was missing in my life; I always got everything last, in my family and amongst my friend. I am the last-born, not that that’s a problem; I was the last person to gain a college admission amongst my peers and the last person to get a job. It’s like I was always the last person. I have prayed and prayed for things to change but it seemed that was the way God wanted it, so I resigned my faith to live in the way universe wanted or so I thought. I got my part, but most times I get it when the hope is gone. So I continue to pray that one day, I will be the first.

The Rosary is something I have always believed worked wonders and after I moved away from my family, I have never been able to say my rosary to the end, I guess I failed to realize that ‘almost done’ is not the same as ‘done’. Either I fall asleep in the middle of saying it, which I do like 95% of the time or I get distracted. I don’t know how this happens, I can’t even explain it, but I am telling you, it’s totally not intentional. So last month at the office, after I got passed on for a promotion that was meant to be mine for a very flimsy reason, then got my application for visa denied, then two weeks ago, after my boyfriend decided we weren’t a good match after all, and a week ago after my publisher called to tell me my book sales were really low. Then today, after my best friend called me to tell me she was getting married to the love of her life, I got home and took out my rosary and I prayed.

I knelt down by the edge of my bed; I didn’t take off my shoes, or my work clothes. I just got out my Rosary, and I prayed, I prayed like I had never before. I prayed for what is mine. I prayed to be first for a change in my life. I prayed that my guardian angel visits me and stay with me till I am first in everything, I prayed for a sign and then I heard a knock on the door. For the first time I finished saying my Rosary and I felt like all my prayers have just been answered.

And so Jeremiah asked me, as I opened the door, “You sent a message?” He told me that the reason it seemed like everything stopped happening for me is that I stopped praying and that all I could have done a long time ago was finish my rosary. I had been the one holding myself. He reached out and touched my face and said, “If you really want something like you to claim you do, you have to stay awake Jane”. Then, he turned and walked away.

I heard my phone ring loudly and jumped up from where I was kneeling. I had fallen asleep again on my knees without finishing my Rosary. Then I realized all that happened had been a dream, it felt so real and I couldn’t shake the feeling. So, I knelt down again and completed my rosary, all I could think was “Why start something that you won’t see to the end, Jane? You need to finish what you started!”. As I finished saying my rosary and was about to get on my feet, a knock sounded on my door and this time, it was for real. I rushed to the door hoping Jeremiah was here for real this time but it seems the universe felt I needed more than just Jeremiah. It was my turn to get my miracle.

The Search For The One(s)!

I lay here and look out the window as it rained and the raindrops make me feel some kind of way. It reminds me I haven’t found the one yet. It’s taking longer than I expected but then I like the wait. I am not in so much of a hurry, not yet, still, I fear I don’t have too much time. I believe deep down inside, every girl knows what she wants, I am that type of girl that knows what she wants, I might get confused along the line, struggle with indecision, but at the end of the day, I know what I want. Which leads me to the question, How many times can one actually love? Throughout the course of our lives, we love as many times possible because the human heart has a bad habit of being hopeful.

So we live, believing and hoping that there is that one meant for us, out of all those ones we are lucky or destined to meet, have a connection with and maybe fall in love with.  Even after we get hurt we still pick ourselves up and put ourselves out there, again and again, thinking, “My heart might be bruised, but it will recover and become capable of seeing the beauty of life once more. It’s happened before, it will happen again, I’m sure. When someone leaves, it’s because someone else is about to arrive–I’ll find love again.” Lang Lea said, “What if I told you that one day you will meet a guy who is unlike anyone else you’ve known. He will know all the right things to say, what makes you laugh, what turns you on, what drives you wild and best of all, you will do for him exactly what he does for you.” That will be one heck of a guy I tell you.

That person that makes your heart beat fast and makes your heart skip a beat at the same time? like an aphrodisiac, you can’t get enough. The one who knows how to press your buttons but most importantly, knows when to stop. That person that can get you to change your mind with just one single line. One you can be weird with and feel totally okay. That person that doesn’t try to change you. The one that knows that you are not like any other person! I want that person that knows I am stubborn and would want to have my way most of the time but stands his ground when he has to, even though I might act like it annoys me, I love it.

I want someone I can have a conversation with, from talking about the weather to exchanging ideas and opinion over how the world should be, argue about silly stuff and talk about other people behind there backs. Someone no subject will ever be awkward to discuss with, even when it is, we will learn to work through it. Someone, I can enjoy silence with and knows when some privacy is needed. That person that loves to live and take chances, knowing fully that I am solidly behind him every step of the way. The one that counts on me as much as I count on him. Someone I will make future plans together with, as partners and believe in each other every step of the way.

Isn’t that every young woman’s dream? To know and love God, herself, family and have amazing friends. To grow up smart, open-minded, confident and beautiful. To have a career she is passionate about. To have the world at her feet. To be strong, wise and live life to the fullest. To meet and fall in love with a man that knows her worth, who respects her and loves her to the moon and back. I believe that’s a girl’s dream, ‘to find the one’. Remembering you have to kiss lots of frogs to find your prince, let me say, ‘go through all the ones to meet the one’.

I am not an ‘Oliver Twist’ but truthfully, I want more. What I really want is to be one of the lucky ones, who go through life loving as much as they can. “Who says you only get one? If you’re lucky, you will meet The One, The Two, The Three…..and so on. But for now, all I need to do is enjoy this tiny bubble of peace and believe that life is dealing me a hand much better than I deserve. Like Mandy Hale said, “Hope for love, pray for love, wish for love, dream for love…but don’t put your life on hold waiting for love.”

Good or Bad: Is Death Really A Reward?

I wonder about death and people dying, the so-called ‘good’ people, the ‘bad’ people and I wonder where people go when they die. When we were much younger, our parents will tell us the dead go up to meet Jesus. But as you get older and lose a loved one or two, a dear friend, a brother or a sister, a parent, anyone in our mind we think didn’t deserve to die, or you think about dying yourself, you wonder some more. Where do people really go when they die and, is anyone really ‘good’? Do you really go to meet Jesus? Do you go somewhere else and continue living? Or do you just vanish? As a Christian, I am made to believe that your soul goes up to be judged by God. Which brings me to this question about death, good people, and bad people. Are you a perfect angel, the devil’s right hand, or somewhere in between?

Do you think life is just white or black because I do not? It was probably meant to be, but somewhere along the line, something got tainted and white or black got mixed into lots of different shades. Suzy Kazem said, “None of us are just black or white, or never wrong and always right. No one. No one exists without polarities. Everybody has good and bad forces working with them, against them, and within them.” So how do you judge whether a person is good or bad?

The bible says, “Judge not so you would not be judged”. The truth is no one is good. As humans when we meet someone our first instinct is basically to size up. If we see something that we feel doesn’t fit in with us, we judge. Everyone thinks their way is the right way, but they don’t know. “Ye without sin cast the first stone”! We all have vices we fight to keep in check, sometimes we win, sometimes we fail, but the thing is to get up and continue fighting. Each person has there own cross and there own ways to carry it. You have your way and others have theirs, the thing to remember is that ‘your way’ is not the only way because many times, the cross is not the same.

I remember a death that happened in my family when I was a child; my aunt’s son who was my cousin died. I hardly knew him but I knew we were related and he was someone important to me. So when my aunt came to our house on that day with him, left and didn’t come back with him and I heard I would never live to see him again I was confused. In my mind, I only thought old and bad people died. He was so young, he hadn’t even lived, and he didn’t deserve to die. He didn’t even get to grow up. This was also how confused I felt when an old friend died sometime this year. Is death something you really deserve because you are good or bad?

I have lived and I have learned not to judge. Like Paulo said “We can never judge the lives of others because each person knows only their own pain and renunciation. It’s one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it’s another to think that yours is the only path”. You are good in this way and the other person is good in that way. We all try to be good because there is no other way to live. It can’t all be white or black; the different shades will always show. At the end of the day, we try to be good, even though it kills us or until you are tired.

The Christmas of My Childhood

I grew up in a family where Christmas was celebrated with so much enthusiasm. My parents always made sure we always got what we needed. Christmas was a time of joy, love, happiness, and giving. We had lots of toys, my dad always made sure of that, part of me thought he was trying to make up for all the time he was away at work. It was the time of the year when we get to be spoilt rotten, my favorite time of the year. I read somewhere, “The smells of Christmas are the smells of childhood”, this is so true.

Growing up my mum made sure we had extra during Christmas. Christmas clothes, shoes, socks, hats, name them, we had Christmas everything and some more. The Christmas clothes were bought in pairs, I and my sister had matching clothes. We had three or four, one we wore on Christmas day, the next was for the boxing day when we would go out to visit relatives and friends of the family, the third we’ll wear on the new year. If my mum was feeling extra generous, she would buy four clothes. Well, I was happy about the matching pairs till I became a teenager and I had a different idea. My brothers also had matching clothes, everyone was happy.

I remember a memorable Christmas morning, on the breakfast table. We had dressed for church and sat down to a quick breakfast of bread and tea. As we ate, my little brother who was about five or six years old slipped out of the table with his cup of tea and came back like 5 minutes. I watched him as he sat back down at the table and continued eating. Every few second he bends his head and blows in his shirt, I looked around the table to see if I was the only one that noticed what he was doing and then I went back to watching him. He caught my eyes briefly as he bent down to blow again and before I could say anything, my Mum who I knew never lets anything get by her asked him why he kept blowing in his shirt. She stood up and came to where he was seated beside him and bent an unbuttoned his shirt, there was a round scald on his chest like hot water burn. Turns out my little brother needed some more hot water in his tea and instead of asking for help, he went into the kitchen and used the tiniest cup we had to get water to pour in his tea, the cup slipped and the hot water poured on his chest. Well, it was still an awesome Christmas. We went to church, but he stayed home with my mum who was really mad at him. Plus, he cried.

I have lots of wonderful childhood Christmas memories, I know lots of people do too, after all, it the season of love and giving. The presents, the people, the joy in the air, the difference, it felt so good, still does. We would dance around the sitting room and listen to Christmas music, singing “Felix Navidad”, at the top of our lungs even though we didn’t know the words, we just sang what we thought they said in our heads. Funny, I don’t think I know the lyrics to date, I hope I am never asked to sing it. My dad will drive us to the different towns to watch the masquerades, we visited our grandmom who always made sure she stuffed us up. I remember one of our neighbors, who never failed to send a tray of food every Christmas, she was one the good ones. I enjoyed every bit of it.

Up till today, Christmas is my favorite tradition, my favorite time of the year. One of my best childhood memories, one which I would love to pass over to my kids, give them the best Christmas memories. What can I say? I am a sucker for Christmas. It’s true what Laura Ingell said, “Our  hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas time.” “Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful. ”

We are Totally Shameless!

Have you ever met any shameless person? No, scrap that. Do you know any shameless person? I know a few shameless people, they are not close friends but they are still friends, colleagues, and some random people. It’s not that they are not nice people, but the fact that they are shameless just makes it hard to understand. Is that they are ignorant, or just lack that emotion? That’s one question I keep asking. Anybody that knows the answer, please enlighten me. You should know that shame should be reserved for the things we choose to do, not the circumstances that life puts on us.

It is said, “When a madman walks naked, it is his kinsmen who feel shame, not himself”. This I can tell you first hand, is the truest proverb ever. Have you ever been caught in the middle of any shameless act? Where you know this person wants to do something totally ridiculous, you look at him/her, you know this is not right, but you see the person has put on a straight face as if what he/she’s about to do is totally normal. And then, they go ahead and shamelessly does it. The shame you feel comes from the pit of the stomach, it engulfs and overwhelms you. You are not feeling shame for just you, but for your friend as well, so it’s shame and some. And then, you wish you could knock some sense into their head, but you can’t because they had no idea they did anything wrong.

Nigerians are shameless, yes, we are a shameless bunch. Weird is normal for most of us, especially here in Lagos. Where a well dressed, responsible looking man, see a queue at the toll gate, but ignores it and drives all the way by the side, passing all the senseless people queuing and drives straight to the front and shamelessly tries to displace a man on the queue and in his mind, everything is just peachy.  Shameless, is when an able-bodied man decides to lay claim on a public road or land that doesn’t belong to him where you have parked your car and as you come out to leave, he comes out of nowhere and demands money from you for parking in a spot that does not belong him, apparently in his head that’s his birthright.

Someone wrote, “Shameless is when the Nigeria Pastor only preaches that the only way to prosper is by paying your tithe and sowing seeds in the church. So they will never talk about those who have through hard work and dedication placed themselves in the world map, No…the Nigeria God only blesses the first 30 people that rush to the altar to drop N100,000 as seed”. The Nigeria God abhors hard work and creative thinking, He only gives to those who sow seeds and offerings……and those who shout “I am a millionaire” every morning and do nothing the rest of the day. This has led to a new breed of shameless lazy young people who now see God as a rewarder of mediocrity.

One of the misfortunes of our time is that in getting rid of false shame we have killed off so much real shame as well. I guess that’s why we have become really shameless. Some people only feel shame when they are not supposed to, which doesn’t even qualify as shame, if there’s is nothing to feel ashamed about. So we are back to where we started. “I am ashamed of anyone who has eyes and still can’t see.”