May madness

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May was a tough month for me… Really tough. The parents really tried their best to drive me over the wall. It eventually culmated in me shouting at my dad after he locked the room I do my sewing in an effort to keep me from doing my work that night. He did that when I went to get his flask of water downstairs. So, I got upstairs, flask in hand, and lo and behold, the room was locked. This was between 11 and 12 at nighy. I went to his room and he had locked his door as well. 

At this point, ladies and gentlemen, i lost it. I went ballistic. I shouted, i banged at their door; it isn’t a moment I’m at all proud of. But I was very fragile emotionally and physically at that point, i was at the edge. 

It had been two months of craziness since my friend arrived. If not for how open my friend and I were at communicating, I promise you, our 12 year old friendship would have gone down the drain. She knew my parents mannerisms almost as well as I and we weasled our way through. So, when they took to calling her to reprimand my behaviours for her to “talk” to me as a “good friend” it was a new card that they had never played  a because growing up, they never ever had an interest in meeting our friends. These behaviours were:

  1. Why do i always laugh with her and not with them?
  2. Why does she go to church and i don’t?
  3. why am i always with her, she should make sure she sends me away next time i come to check her in the chalet

There were also threats of sending her away for the slightest things. We talked indepth about everything, my friend and I but, in that week, asides all the parental drama, I had a mad deadline to meet and was barely sleeping. My father would go to bed by 11 and see me at the sewing machine; he would wake up 5 and meet me still at the sewing machine and there was no consideration, no sympathy. Just a series of “what have you done for mes” “the same diligence you use to work for your customers (if not greater) is for your parents”. I started to call him Captain Von Trapp in my head, before Maria came on the scene that is.

I said a lot of things in the dead of that night. A lot of things that would have, on a normal day, been left unsaid. But the fact was I knew that he had locked that door, to deliberately get a rise out of me. I rarely rose to anger but there is always a day of reckoning. I remember, at a point my mum came out asking, “are you mad?” (In Yoruba) and i told her “this situation doesn’t concern you. Action and reaction are equal and opposite… He locked that door to get a reaction from me and by God, he will get it.” I’m such a science geek. Lol.

I almost left this house that day, the only things that held me was my friend fast asleep in the chalet and my sewing machine – My livelihood. It’s one thing to flee home at 20 (which I did) another thing when you have a machine and customers​ to fend to.

I almost renounced my car that day. I had already taken my spare box (aka vex box, containing spare clothes, undies and shoes in case I had to leave the house real quick) and car accessories out, torn out all my car and church stickers. I wanted to slash the tyres… I swear. I was a haze of anger. When it clicked: He might have bought the car but it was my money that had gone into its maintenance and upkeep these past 4 years, not his. Possession was 90% of the law and Abby (car’s name) would remain mine. My dad would later used his steering lock on the car to ensure i didn’t drive it but, as the car had a fault and I wasn’t driving her, I ignored him and the lock.

In the esueing days, he would lock the gate from within when I went out to give a customer her clothes, to ensure I couldn’t come back in. If i went to the chalet to check on my friend, I would get back to the house and the door would be locked. This even happened at night! And my twin brother revelled in it. He seems to think we’re in some sort of competition so when there’s a strain in my relationship with my parents he levers on it and starts doing chores he will never do to show he is the better one. He will take my dad aside and paint a more detrimental picture of me to my dad. He’s 26. I’ve spent a large portion of my life not caring for him and watching him perfect this mannerism that it’s just amusing now.

I moved my sewing machine back to my room. It’s pretty cramped there but it will suffice, for now.

The events in May has made me take the bull by the horn concerning my moving out dream. This house is not mine. I do not belong here. I will never be truly happy here. These are realisations that May birthed in me. Realisations that have me looking deeper into my business and her financial stand and what I will do to get her to where we need to be: a studio/apartment.

Amazingly, business opportunities have opened up in all directions and I am so excited​. Me and my bank account both. Can’t wait to save enough to get out of here!!

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Deathbed

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My phone is dying.

As far as excuses for not blogging goes, it seems the stupidest. It’s like the “my dog ate my homework” of not doing assignments. Which I never ever used because we had a dog growing up called… You guessed it, snoopy. Winnie snoopy actually and she never ate paper. She loved chocolate drinks though. Died at a young age. Pronably because dogs aren’t meant to take sugar. Don’t bother comforting myself, I don’t blame myself. She should have refused.

Anyway back to dying phone. The screen is cracked so bad it looks like Spiderman’s web is hanging out on it. Not only that, the back and​ home buttons have a mind of their own. So I’m writing a blogpost and then the back button gets an itch and starts singing “back it up girl”… and it won’t stop. It’s like pressing the button as fast as you can but 10 times faster.

Not only that, it doesn’t charge normally. You need a protractor and a compass to get the right angle that the charging point must tilt into the phone to have it charge.

Not only that, it’s slow. Like if a tortoise and a snail were on a lame donkey and made an app that runs… crawls… shuffles at their speed that’ll be this phone.. the slow coach note 2.

Not only that, my earphone broke in the earphone port. I didn’t even know that could happen. But happen it did which means that

Not only that, I cannot receive calls without speakers and I cannot listen to any music on my phone. None. Just my ringtone. Which I have loved and used for 3-4 years but still… No music? What a damn dommage.

Not only that, the phone calls randomly. So I’m apologising 2-3 times a day to people I haven’t talked to in a year.

Not. Only. That. It turns on phone functions randomly. So people will walk up to me and tell me my torch is on. Or I’ll turn on the screen and y hotspot, Bluetooth and wifi are on. All on this phone that doesn’t even want to charge right.

And as pinnacle of the not only that’s, the screen cannot sleep on it’s own. You know how you can drop your phone and trust that in thirty seconds the screen is black? Not this phone. I have woken up to 2% battery on a hot enough to poach egg phone with cracked screen on, WiFi active, Bluetooth available, with missed calls from an ex. How did I explain that the phone randomly called him? I didn’t; couldn’t. He believes is signs and signals which I, truthfully, also believe in but there is no sign and signal that will take me back to this young man. Not even if he has a red arrow on his head.

Crappy matchmaking phone. Just a matter of time till I dump it for a younger, faster, better-looking thing… But don’t be mad phoney, it’s not you, it’s me. 

Crayfish conditions

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For the past month, things have been a bit terse in the home-front; i mean terser, which I never thought possible but here you have it.

A best-friend recently got a job not too far from here but as she lived 2 states away, she needed a place to stay till she got a place of her own and being as I have a brother staying with a family that none of us know or are in anyway related to, I believe we owe the universe a favour… It’s easy to pray blessings on families that roof people but, it’s a better blessing to offer this roof. We have two self-contained chalets behind the house and that’s where she is staying and my parents are transferring the aggression of been put in this “situation” to me. Unfortunately, the days of me just been a sponge and soaking all this aggression in are gone… I’m saturated with the anger they’ve transferred my way for over a decade. My culture frowns at been angry to elders so you just take it all in till you reach an age that you don’t soak it all in… The sponge can’t take anymore.

They have problems with me :

  1. Hanging out in the chalet with my friend.
  2. Gisting and laughing in said chalet with said friend
  3. Even just sleeping off here

There’s a huge argument about EVERYTHING and boy oh boy, is it exhausting?! I feel so bad that my best-friend cannot stay in this huge ass mansion comfortably. And i actually said so to them after the new spat they brought up. 

I made dinner and after laying the table, my father (with my mother cheering him on) went ballistic about all things forgetting to put glasses on their tables and then made this cursory speech about how my bestfriend is my guest and that he might have to send her out of the house based on my “bad behaviour”. 

The not setting glasses bad behaviour. They had their forks, knives, spoons, plates all set on the table like it was Buckingham palace. Dinner made and served in coolers like they have a live-in chef. Kitchen cleaned and garbage tossed out like ttherewas a chamber maid but the lack of glasses just screamed bad behaviour and terrible child at them. Because we all know how not giving people glasses riles normal people up.

No better motive than vengeance

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So I, out of the grand goodness of my heart, a heart that you all remember is oh so gracious and oh so so kind, I checked in on captain on-again off-again. 

I prefer night calls, 9-10pm to be exact: rounding up the days stresses, making jokes. But alas, it’s always tricky because call too early and he’ll still be driving home (recieving calls whilst driving is a no-no for me) and call too late and he is sleeping; if he picks, he sounds as drunk as a sailor. This time I caught him as he was just getting home, so no Frankenstein narrative. 

πŸ‘¨: Ms. Odutola…

πŸ‘Έ: Mr. ****… How are you? how was your day? 

πŸ‘¨: Fine… stressful… Just getting in from work. How was yours?

πŸ‘Έ: Stress… Work… Just finished eating 500 naira worth of suya…. 

πŸ‘¨: With your big belly?

πŸ‘Έ: πŸ˜’πŸ˜£πŸ˜  wait What?

😈: Yes now…

πŸ‘Έ: Wow. On top my own credit again… It’s not your fault it’s me that called.

😈: Sorry now… But youre always talking about how you want your tummy to be flat all the time.

πŸ‘Έ: Byeeeeee

😈: Okay okay, your tummy is perfect.

πŸ‘Έ: NOPE! It’s too late, leave me and my bloated belly.

😈: Ahhnn now… Chill, Taiwo, I’m sorry. Please let me settle down, I’ll call you back.

πŸ‘Έ: NOPE! Me, my BIG belly and the low self esteem you just gave me ON MY OWN CREDIT are going to bed. 

😈: Fine, We’ll talk tomorrow. Goodnight dear.

πŸ‘Έ: Goodnighttttttt.

So yes, operation you-just-wait-till-I-get-my-abs-on is ON! ON LIKE DONKEY KONG! So, Goodbye snacking all day, goodbye sedentary lifestyle, goodbye Abby driving me everywhere and say hello: hello Planking, hello 2 litres of cucumber-ginger water, hello hourly early morning and evening walks, hello low/no carbohydrate, hello eating only one real meal a day, hello salad dinners. Hello flat tummy, that I will rub in the face of captain on again off again. Hello smaller butty. Smaller butty will be so very happy to meet him. He is an appreciate-er of fuller bums of which I have ample, 43 inches worth. So yes, a smaller butty is one person that will be hella glad to meet him if you know what I mean. 😏😏

For love and for customers

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There are many things i love about my customers. About a hundred things.

  1. They pay me.
  2. I can use said pay to increae my fabric stash.
  3. I can use said money to get my hair done.
  4. I can use said money to fuel my car.
  5. I can use said money to buy myself shoes.
  6. I can use said money to buy myself bags… I LOVE a good bag.
  7. I can use said money to increase my arm candy moments.
  8. Etc

When there is no money involved, the love i have for theae customers dissipate like steam froma whistling kettle.

This is the part my customers don’t seem to get. The thought what they pay is actually a section of my salary. I think they think it’s a hubby or a side job.

Yesterday, I delivered a couple of clothes for a client. She was all in love when she saw them till it was time to pay up. She just couldn’t believe that they would cost so much. And yes, she had been told the price before but, i guess something about pregnancy has botched with her memory glands. This was one of the pieces for her daughter. Price: 1,200 naira which is about $4 in today’s economy.

She said… And i quote “it is just too much.”

Really? Really ma’am? It’s “too much”. Ladies and gentlemen I was peeved! If there is one thing Nigerian designers are known for it is over padding their prices. My cost wasn’t padded, it wasnt even on normal size. It was lean as a string, emaciated, basically on surviving on a drop of water a day and it was still too much?

REALLY?! 

 I eventually agreed to 750 naira which is a little over $2 in today’s economy.

I need new clients 😩

Hi Aunt Flow, I thought you weren’t coming anymore… Oh,something more for me? Goodie πŸ˜

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There are many things that mark my period. Sudden overwhelming urge for neatness and to organize, cramps or no cramps (it’s always a surprise which my body goes with) over-efficient bowel movement, bra suddenly becomes over-snug and a loss of appetite for everything but gari and meat, lots AND LOTS of meat.

But yesterday, I found something else in the goody bag from nature dearest. I wanted to be alone. Not the normal alone, but I actually didn’t want to talk or chat with even my friends. I wanted to burrow in my room and lie on my bed and drone on, my whole body hurt. Then i started to feel angry and the anger was directed at Mr. On-again/ off-again, i wanted to call him and tear him a piece of my mind. For some reason, the fact that I had had to call him again the day before was now getting to me a full 24 whole hours later, even though he had explained that he was getting parts for his recently acquired car that had broken down. “He will tell me who he thinks he is,” i muttered under my breathe as I dialed his number “why I will call you once and you cannot return the call like a normal person, making someone to worry unnecessarily. Rubbish.” 

His number didn’t go through, I was out of airtime. I tried to buy some through my account but it kept saying no network connection. “If I dont go and make a formal complaint at this useless bank tomorrow, I am a goat,” i declared angrily. I decided I wanted to message a friend to send me airtime to call this guy and go through with the aforementioned mind-tearing till I remembered I didn’t want to talk to anyone. 

Bummer.

 I was as worked up as the mad hatter on steroids at this point and soon, my head started to hurt, talk about frying pan to fire.

I went to every ones favourite doctor to find out what was happening, how contagious it was and how long I had to live. 

Web MD.

Scrolling through the life-threatning options, my eyes zeroed in on PMS. My period? How is my period making me have body aches, headaches and making getting up difficult?

Apparently, my body is so disappointed that I am not pregnant that it does this to me…makes me a crazy person. “So, you won’t get pregnant, hunh? Well, I will just fill you up with hormones and make you get extrememly emotional, see how you like that!”

Makes me wonder though, have I been getting hormonal for over a decade and not known it, or is this just a surprise package from mother nature, the worst mother of all, to see what’ll happen? Only time will tell, only time will tell.

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.