A cow for a child

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It was a sunny day in Zamfara. The central market was a heaving mass of life with the voices of haggling and quarrels over prices. The chaos was rivaled only by the uninterested noises of cows tied all around.

It was a disorderly place. Outside the large sprawl were the animals. Once you skipped your way through splashes of dung. There was the informal abattoir characterised by the drone of flies dancing on the meat. This was followed closely by food items, fruits and vegetables. Even if the sun was at its possible brightest, there was always mud. Then there was the gate that led the way into the market. Vendors sat lazily outside their stalls and called out to customers with a familiarity that would make you think you came there looking for them.

“Alhaja, come and buy hijab,” one man called to a woman shoving her way determinedly through the throng of activity with one hand and the other holding the hand of a young girl. 

Absently, she smiled and waved and continued her pilgrimage. She was soon past the gate and inside the market, Easily finding the jewellery shop.

It was locked.

“Good morning, ma!” The panting voice of the trader sounded behind her, “welcome alhaja. We have been expecting you.”

The trader, brought out a key and opened the metal door. 

She stepped in and took a seat, waving her daughter into the next seat. The trader disappeared into the back room then reappeared with four red little velvet sacks on a tray. She set them on the table in front of her.

Gingerly, she opened each of them, bringing out necklaces, bangles and earrings of pure gold. Her fingers picked out the most expensive necklace.

“Alero, come.”

Her daughter got up and stood in front of her as she held it against girl’s neck. 

It looked so out of place… So heavy.

“Mummy?”

She ignored her, calling for the trader to have them packaged and delivered to the house. This market wasn’t a place that you carry expensive items around. As the duo made their way out of the market, a bike rider swerved recklessly in their direction but quickly righted himself. Her hand had immediately grabbed her daughter’s hand. 

They were cold. She looked down into the eyes of the little girl. The girl gazed ahead into the distance, there was a pathway of dried tears running from reddened, swollen eyes. With a corner of her wrapper, she made an attempt to clean the stoic little face. Instead, the child grabbed my hand and held it tightly. “mummy please” she said, her lips quivering and tears started to circle again.

          ——————-
It was a restless night for Bidemi.

What could she do? 

She had hoped the idea of shopping would distract the girl from the situation at hand but it hadn’t.

 What could she do? 

She was an educated Yoruba woman who had been married off to a Hausa man. And not just any Hausa man but a prominent one at that. Prominence and wealth were everything in this part of the world. It was wealth and prominence that had had her parents look the other way when a man of fifty eight had approached them for their fifteen year old daughter’s hand in marriage. She had been the third wife in this man’s search for a male child.  By sixteen she was pregnant for her first child. It had been born stillborn She was lucky to be alive the doctor had said. Five years marched slowly and left in its wake 3 miscarriages. The other wives called her a man, a leech. Bidemi had started to believe them. However, she got pregnant again, this time delivering a baby girl but, at a cost. She would never birth another child. Within the time of her miscarriages, her husband barely missed a beat as he went on to have two more wives. The fifth, a fourteen year old, finally bore him the son he wanted. Being sterile and having just a girl-child, Bidemi was practically ignored by her husband. Finally, three years later, Bidemi left him baby in tow, returning home to Kwara.

Bidemi’s family was not pleased. Her husband had built this large family house for them where the old derelict rooms she had grown up in once stood. They didn’t want to lose it. Did she want to upset him and have them loose the house? Bidemi didn’t care. She was a twenty-four year old woman now, not the fifteen year old they could kick around and bend to their will. She met up with her childhood mates. They heard her story and looked at her with pity. It was a far cry from just a few years back when she had been the envy of them all, garbed in expensive laces and coral beads that her new husband had got. 

She remembered that day. Coming home to their small house, had been the most unusual thing. There were cows tied up at one corner. Large pieces of yam with bows on them. The smell of food was in the air. She stepped into the house and her mother had whisked her away. Her mother’s teeth couldn’t stay within her mouth that day. She told Bidemi how she would be going somewhere she would be well taken care of,she would have maids and a room to herself. By the time she stepped out again. The little compound was filled with more guests than she haf ever seen it old. Her friends peeped in through the hedges. They barely recognized her. Even she barely recognized herself. She had on the most laces she had only seen the people in newspapers way. And her neck chains were so heavy she was scared to touch it. She had met with the rich man that was to look after her. He looked old. Mother had said it didn’t matter. Her friends had looked on enviously,

They  all wanted to be her: to be whisked away by some rich manftom the poverty that was their upbringing. She was the Cinderella story of Kwara state. Like all fairy tales, the glitters soon dispersed and she found herself the youngest of three wives in a land where she knew no one and whose language she didn’t speak. 

That was a lifetime ago. 

On that April day, when she found herself back in Kwara, 5 year old child in hand, she had nothing. Oh, she had been well fed and clothed but, when she got back home, seeing the satisfaction and success on her friends faces, driving in cars they had bought with the money they had earned at their jobs. They had jobs, kids, and husbands who weren’t searching for more wives. She felt handicapped. Somhow from living in the midst of those women she had lost it all; an interest in education, childhood dreams of being a lawyer… All of these had faded in her race to not be labeled the barren wife. All she had to show for herself was her child, Alero. Unfortunately, Alero, though she loved her dearly hadn’t been much to show off. She was the sore thumb in the midst of her friends’ children. She understood English a little but having being brought up speaking Hausa,  she would always lapse into the comfort of her mother tongue. The other children were amused by her, regarding her like one would a pet. 

Bidemi’s friends had rallied around her in ways she had never imagined, paying for the child’s education. Her family, in a bid to pressure her to move back to Zamfara had kicked her out of the family house. Apparently, her husband had stopped sending them monthly monies and they had had to start tightening their belts. But, Bidemi’s eyes had been opened to a life outside of just birthing children She wanted to go to university and get a job and drive cars like her mates. 

One of her friends had opened up a room in their chalet for them to live in. Bidemi and Alero had blossomed. In three years, Alero had caught up with her age mates and she was soon top of her form. 

The ensuing years had also been good to Bidemi and she had gotten a bachelors’ degree and secured a job. 

The future looked bright for both she and her child. 

And then a month ago, her world was turned upside down. She appeared in school to pick up Alero, only there was no Alero. No one could give an idea. She had attended classes that day but sometime between the final bell and her arrival to take her home, the child was gone. Her slippers had beaten the pavement daily to and from the police station. She had talked to everyone in school. She had had a picture of her little girl in the newspaper.

Nothing.

No kidnapping demands, no auspicious sightings. Nothing. It was like Alero had simply vanished from all existence.

Two weeks passed. Running out of options, Bidemi went to the family house to talk to her parents about the best way forward. 

A three hour drive saw her outside the blue walls. The gate man let her in. Her senses were immediately assaulted with  the smell of a dung heap produced by a herd of cows, bellowing away in the sunlight. Her heart skipped a beat. She walked ahead and the then she saw it, the house was painted. It was too much of a coincidence. The last time the house had been painted was nine years ago. She started to run. Oh God, no! She burst into the house, her heart beating an uneven tattoo in her chest, she prayed. Let it  not be so. Let her worst fears not be true.

Her eyes sparking fire, she ran in and confronted them. She was right, she broke down into tears.  Her husband had come with five cows to take her only child, her twelve year old child, to be married to some forty three year old man. And her parents had agreed. They had sold her daughter for five cows. Cows for a bright future…

The police couldn’t help. Lawyers couldn’t help, there were No enforcible laws in a state that practised the sharia laws.

And so she found herself in a place she had grown to despise. Trying to find an escape for her child from this horrid grotesque destiny.

Walk with me

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It’s the last day of my holiday. Work begins tomorrow. Again. I’m slightly excited, not working and taking a break is great and all but, these coffers won’t fill theirselves. I’m also almost exploding with the new direction work is going to take.

 All my friends have been making giant strides of late, Dammy got a job from Germany but she gets to do the work from Nigeria. She’s just twenty-three and is already working on her Ph.D! Ayo, last week, got a call from a major company and has gone through two stages of the interview; the second stage was the oddest: “describe the color red to a blond person”, “bring at least one object belonging to the 70s/80s era and has no relevance to today” i half hoped someone would bring in a dead great grand parent as a joke. Chika is rounding up with her M.Sc. this year and is making moves to study further. Seun’s honda decided to pull a honda and break its front tyre hinge thing, he says its a sign that he buys a new car… I have no words. Jide has decided to extend his holiday to US and become a citizen there… Thats a bit tough, i miss him and we don’t talk so much anymore but, its what he wants. 

So everyone is moving up somehow but, in my line, the only person that can move me up is me. Theres no professional exams, no re-considering salaries, nothing. I have to force these moves If I want to move up with my friends. First of all, I wanted a creative space for myself to do my work. I was hoping to secure one of the self-contain rooms behind the house  but, my mum is kind of a hoarder/ collector and she said she had dibs on the room i was eyeing so, that isn’t happening, for now. But it’s in my thoughts already so I know something is bound to crop up. I’m also planning to go DITIGAL with my work, aka social media. Get on instagram, twitter, facebook and post pictures of my work. Two of my friends have already volunteered their services in managing the sites. That should start mid-May. Between now and then, i have patterns to construct, clothes to make, logos to re-design and a whole lot in beteeen.

I have a wardrobe full of fabrics I’ve been buying since January, a lot of money already gone in. I can’t really predict the outcome. It’s clichΓ© for people to give success stories and slide hardwork in the midst. I see hard work on a daily all around, people struggling for a pitiance. But, I am hopeful for the best; for favour and to reap all the fruits of my investment. 

A case for doggies

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I woke up to 30 views on my blog from 1 visitor today.

Someone had had a filled day reading up 30 posts. I get excited by things like this. I want to get on the blog and read the posts that they read. It’s also an awesome way to have a mini-history lesson on the last couple of years and what i wrote about what.

Unfortunately, a couple of the clicks had been on posts my romantic life… My romantic life, though it has touched about 3 other guys and a couple of random dates, has actually kind of always returned to one person. Omelette/ someone.

And as I read on these old posts and had my past hurts and thoughts hauled right in my face. I started to panick. I dont mind been single… to be honrst, i love been single, you save money on calls, you save your  peace of mind on worry. Don’t get me wrong, I also dont mind been in relationships, you learn a lot about yourself and on the chance that no one is severely hurt by a breakup, you could remain friends. But what me and this guy tend to have is just in the middle; it fits into the “it’s complicated” sphere of things. 

I don’t like complicated.

I like smooth sailing and peace. I don’t like second guessing,  It’s a little exhausting. Sometimes, you want to put in your all, other times you’re like mehhh, who knows what he’s really after, hol’ up.

It’s things like this that convince me that I’m not cut out for these type of relationships… Maybe just relationships that are born out of really good friendship, maybe. But i tried that already and it didn’t pan out.

This type, the break-up/ make-up/ break-up/ make-up/ break-up/ whatever the fuck were doing now doesn’t seem pure anymore. The pure time was probably 5 years ago and even then i didn’t know we were dating … I just thought we talked all the time because we liked talking to each other. We never really got around to the asking out. And guys at that age used that as an excuse a lot, “but i never asked you out..” So, I went on with it.

I’m not a communication expert; I’m not at all eloquent when it comes that. I think that’s why I’m exceedingly emotional. Because a conversation at a high level of emotion will break me. I like words, I like letters, I like notes, i like texts. They distance you a bit. It’s not like a word said into your ear that reverberates into your mind and needs a response immediately. Words marinate.

Truth, my relationship with him stresses me. The length we’ve been at this stresses me. The fact that I see new facets of him all the time stresses me… It’s like do I even know this person? That’s not a question that should come up after five years right? He says that sometimes: “you should know _____ about me.” And I wonder, should I? Really? Have I being in this circumstance so much that i ought to know this? Am i so stuck with the side of his personality I first got to know I can’t unstick and know this new person. Sometimes i want to retort, “how will i know? Did you tell me?” But i don’t like agitation. Its so unpredictable, you don’t know what words can come out in the heat of the moment.
Sometimes I wish we just met. New relationships are so much fun, a bit shallow but fun.Old relationships have that depth that comes with knowing someone for a while .. But old break up- make-ups? That’s a whole entire maze of question marks… Sometimes i want to shake him really hard and tell him:

“Are you okay with this? I know you might have feelings for me, but if we push the feelings aside, do WE work? I have feelings for you, yes. Im not using this as an excuse to force your hand. You’re really great and and now you have the money too.. Finding a girl cant br any easier. Don’t stay stuck on me just because of feelings oh. Or is it just sex? Because, yes I love to fool around with you but, I might never ever cross that line and have sex, so you can just go on now. Skat!” But the conversation that might arise from saying that freaks me to death.

I think I should just forget all this, get a dog and settle down. Dogs aren’t complicated: a wag of a tail, a happy bark and I know we’re good. No words needed.


The goodiosity of Self-centeredness

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       I was still sitting on the wall and been undecided as good ol’ Humpty Dumpty when i wrote about it in the last post.. But now, as day 4 of my break draws to a close and with no deadline in sight, I can say i have never been more relaxed. It was an awesome decision to go through with and I thank all y’all that actually commented and help me assert this decision. 

I’ve been over at a friend’s since wednesday.. And if i could, i would draw it out till next week.Funny enough i haven’t done all thr things that i thought marked a good holiday… I havent taken myself to the movies, I havent hooked up with my distant rarely seen friends, I havent done my pedicure or manicure, and I havent had my relaxing bubble bathe . I’ve pretty much just been eating, sleeping and gisting. And realistically, that’s what a break is; it’s time off to rest, not to fill it up with a different set of new activities. 

A couple of weeks back, if someone had asked me the best thing I did this year, it would have been expanding my customer base… Or getting a hundred orders by the end of the first quarter… Or being able to actually take friends out AND pay. But right now, for me, it was being able to hit the snooze button and take this deserved rest in the midst of the clients’ orders and demands… So much more to be made to fill up my cuffers with the legal tender it deserved and my self centered ass decided it would rather rest instead… That’s dedication to enjoyment right there! And i wouldn’t have it any other way

When life serves you stress

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After weeks AND WEEKS , actually months, of promising myself a break, I’ve decided that last week of march would be it.

“Just wait till upper week, i will tear you up,” i would mutter threateningly to my bed, as i brushed past it to pull another all-nighter.

“You’re gonna soak me all week,” i would sneer at my bathe as I took a brisk bathe to rush off and make a delivery.

“I swear I’ll get you sorted,” i would apologetically tell my room aka sty.

You know your room has been in a mess  too long when you start to actually know what each mound of mess contains.

What took me to realising i need a break was when i was chatting with a friend and told her, “these clients think they can kill me, i will kill them before they kill me…”. Doesn’t even make sense. But, i was upset. They had all started switching delivery days on me. So, I would be up nights trying to meet up with these new deadlines because i don’t want to disappoint.

I should actually just learn to say no,  but that seems like stress and such a big bother. In the battle of

“Stay up couple of nights” and “Say no” my bed always wins.
So, I’m fed up. With work, stress, being grimey… Everything. And if children get to have holidays from singing ABC’s and doing PE, gosh darn it, i get to have one too. 
I’d cleaned out work for the entire upper week. And was in the process of inventing lies to any probable clients instead having to say, “no, I’m not accepting work this period”, probably kill off one of my already late grand ma’s.

When i realised upper week was NOT the last week of March.

Turns out it’s actually the penultimate week. 

Demn it! 

I’m one of those people that like things to start and end at official starts and ends. So if i want to begin a new diet and it’s Tuesday, you bet your ass I’ll wait till monday to start it. 

But then, i thought, Why don’t I think I deserve a two-week break? I’ve basically not had a break since November, if even that because i clearly remember the deadlines i had for early December… Shiloh, Christmas clothes, socialiga, quickly followed by new year clothes… so, chances are November was tight so, probably October. 

Besides, within next quarter of the year, I’ll finally be posting pictures of my pieces online. I’m not really enthused but, i have been bullied and after reaching rock bottom and lying that i have no ambition, I decided why not?

What’s the worst that can happen?Besides people hating your work, getting a lot of work and not been able to meet up, people not been satisfied,. What’s really the worst that can happen? (Sarcasm)

So this 2-week break will double as prep period.. Buying the threads, frills and linings i need, planning, organising and designing. I’ll also take up early morning walks within the period because its a great way to clear your head and I’ll get my hair and nails done. I think I’ll watch a movie by myself, which i haven’t done since 2013 (I’ll tell you why later) and will definitely plan to also stay over at a friend’s for some days. 

My bank account is looking at my hopes and dreams with derision but gosh darn it, i need this.

Gear 1

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​So I’ve been off for a couple of months. Sorry if I got you worried, life just got in the way. The break that I’d hope to have December, then Christmas, then January.. They never happened. So the time to just sit still and write never really came. I’m either working , delivering, buying fabrics and sewing knickknacks or seeing friends, contacting friends, going out with them.. I have very few moments of just lying down nothing-to-do-ness. I also started writing for a medical blog a couple of weeks back. So cram that in the schedule as well. From january 1st till now, i have 67  orders. It’s great to have work… Awesome actually. But of late it’s getting overwhelming, last week i made and delivered 16 pieces. This week I have 8 clothes to deliver with plans of a break next week (ever eondered why kids get to have mid-term breaks from reading all day and adults dont get any from working all day?) but my brain has kinda decided to shut my body down since Monday. No creative flow, no inspiration, nothing.

So, on Tuesday (today) i decided to have a full body soak rather than just waste it trying to force work like i did yesterday. Warm water… Bathe salts, Epsom salts, baking soda, the whole ten yards.

Friends, i couldn’t be more relaxed if i had had a massage. I feel like freedom. Like all the windedness, all the strain somehow osmosised (is that a word?) Its way from my body into the salty tub. And that’s why i can open this app and write a post today as I bask on the settee and enjoy a merit of self-employment.

Merry Christmas,

Happy new year and

Happy Valentine’s day guys. 

Hopefully, I’ll be able to write more once i figure out how to juggle this work load.

How to ruin Β your concentration in one easy step

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​Today, i was cleaning out my room. It’s been really busy of late and when I get so busy, I tend to be a lot light handed in hygiene and clearing up. I survive on the basics. So, since i woke up late and missed the church bus, I decided to use my time for sunday nap to do the needful.

I had a mound of documents, old sermon notes, church bulletins and  fliers I had gathered up some weeks back and, I went through them seperating the useful from the not so useful. Is it just me that feels guilty throwing away church fliers? But guilt or not.. They were getting too many and had to go.

Anyway, I’m going through this and I stumble across a letter. It is addressed to my ex on his birthday (click here). I decided to read it, I’m not really sure why. I wrote the letter so, you know, i knew what was all in there. But well, read it I did.

Turned out to be, yes you guessed it, a bad decision.

I cried myself silly. Red eyes, sniffles, throbbing headache, the whole 10 yards. I mean it’s being months for Christ sake! How can it still hurt?! 

Inner me started asking all these questions, why does it still hurt? What could you have done differently? Is it a regret or a lesson learned? And I’m just looking at this letter and i want to tear it and put it in the trash and forget everything. But i can’t bring myself to. For now.

I should have just gone to church.