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2018 Personal Journal

AUGUST 2018

PERSONALITY OF THE MONTH

MMESOMA EJIKEME: THE ONE I CALLED ‘MY PERSONAL ASSISTANT’

Children are amazing, the way they think and reason captivates me. With them, you never really know what to expect and they ask questions that might make your hair stand.

Of course, not all kids are like that, some kids are just too quiet, others are too naughty and playful. When I however find an expressive child that at least have a high intellectual capacity, then I can relate with that person well, there naturally seem to be a bond as my mind is often biased towards intellect. That kid does not need to be posh or speak a lot of English or have a foreign accent or have rich parents.

So, when the six-year-old came over for holidays to where the father had come to work, her intellect was displayed when she vividly remembered me from two years ago. We had amazing times and discipline times, and there were a lot of questions to answer. Each time she says “I want to ask you something”, my heart will skip a beat.

Eventually, a couple of people got jealous of a seeming preferential treatment, but the thing is that I try not to dote to an extent of not being firm.

For the time they were around, I called her my Personal Secretary and taught them the importance of using initiative. I also operated the “reward system of training with them and I think that it worked.

The kid has potentials, but like every kid, there are a lot of idiosyncrasies that one needs to fight against. One of her greatest weaknesses was not being familiar with Bible stories, but the cartoon characters Caleb and Sophia did teach her a lot of lessons.

FRI 31

“Blessed are the poor IN SPIRIT”- Jesus Christ (emphasis is mine)

Yesterday at meetings, the sermon Christ gave on the mount was discussed. It was a really interesting learning session were one to be there, and it was thought-provoking. He started by saying that ‘blessed or happy are the poor…’ it was something that seemed controversial. He went on to say that the mourners are happy, etc. later, he denounced the rich and laughing as having woes.

Well, really, Jesus was stating the source of true happiness which goes beyond being merry. He was also stating the fact that the destitute often listen to God more…though many times one have to be careful because even some destitute person were just following Jesus for free food…I mean I had to be careful too yesterday.

We learnt that poverty does not mean being happy, Jesus did not mean that; in fact he told some people, some poor people that they were putting up a show to serve God because they want to benefit materially.

Well, people are complex; that is why I spent two hours on the phone trying to sort out an aspect of work I thought was long settled. I mean, the real cause of most problems. I mean, the wronged and the ‘wronger’ often have two entirely different versions often based on their perception. I am often caught in the middle.

We went to the electrical market to get items and it took us some time, meaning work only started by noon and ended more than six hours after it. It was one of those times that the hands really had to be dirty, really dirty. It was fun and brought back memories of school workshop practices. I miss it.

I forgot my wallet again today, the fourth time in three month and it is worrying. That of today was even more particular because I had remembered that I should not forget the wallet.

It felt empty not being with a wallet, and I was careful not to ‘pour someone’s palm oil’.

Let me ask you a question. What is the right answer to give when you are told “thank you”?

The six-year-old told me today:

“Don’t always say “[you are] welcome” when they tell you thank you. Always say “thank God”

THU 30

“Sometimes being firm is more difficult than being strong”-Me

The 6-year old girl is amazing, I cannot deny it, but there is often a thin line between being amazing and being naughty. I am afraid that this generation will not wait until teenage to have an addiction, so we have to fight to keep kids from too much use of gadgets. You know, if you are not careful, they make it look like giving them gadgets is an act of love, and even if it is for something worthwhile, too much time on it is a minus.

I have had to fight a lot of criticism lately. The kids do not seem to give up on the cake, believing that they will persuade me to change my mind. Other people whom they told joined in saying I should still get the cake. You see, the food order I had made was meant to arrive today and they were hoping that there will be a cake inside.

One really has to be careful about these things. Every reward promised should be given, the same is true of punishments, especially if it involves a denial of privileges. If you start making compromises, then be ready to have a bunch of unruly kids. It is a rule in child-rearing. The kids throw away the cake opportunity and that is what it is.

I did not know that by stating yesterday that the sun won the battle, that I was provoking the rain. She starting throwing punches very early did that for most of the day.

The food order did come, but without the cake. The sadness almost made me pick up my phone and reorder the cake but I was resolute.

The food was so parcelled that it could arrive the UK without pouring. It had travelled through 3 states for over four hours to arrive. I wonder if these travels is what made that friend of mine call her business d’ Explorer.

The rain threatened to fall during time for my Christian meetings, but as soon as I found the umbrella, it stopped. Sometimes the rain behaves like a child.

Meetings were interesting. It was almost entirely about forgiveness, the formula my brother normally proposes: make excuses for others and imagine the circumstances that made them act that way. Life will really be easier if we do this.

Wait…this is not about the cake. There is a difference between forgiveness and discipline. In forgiveness, the offended let go of a feeling of injustice and grudge. In discipline, the offender is made to let go a privilege either merited or lovingly extended to, what would have been enjoyed if a preventable naughty act was not carried out.

WED 29

“’welcome o’ is better than ‘well-done o’”- a crude interpretation of an Efik proverb.

There is a huge difference between transliteration and translation. Translation is more than rendering words in the exact words of the target language, but has a lot to do with meanings. No matter how good one is in translation, it could sometimes not convey the exact meaning.

Take the above phrase for example. It is actually “ammenyong ofon akan tiero”. “ammenyong” is easily “welcome”, but “tiero” is complex. It is a greeting in Efik/Ibibio said when the ‘greetee’ is seated. It literally mean “sit down there o” but is meant to mean “well-sit”. Even in pidgin, there is hardly a greeting like that. In English there is nothing near it, even other local languages do not have something similar…except Yoruba with its “eku joko” which means “good sitting”.

In pidgin, “well-done” could be said if someone is either working or standing or sitting. Deltans argue that it should not be. They ask what one cooked that is “done” and maybe also think “done” is past tense of “do” so they greet “well-work” when someone is working. I once wondered in my Delta Dairies if they will greet “well-well” to someone getting well from a sickness.

What really did the “welcome” proverb aim to achieve. I suppose it was meant to encourage industry. Someone is not meant to sit at home doing nothing, but go out and work. It was only someone that goes out to work that will be greeted “welcome” and it is better than someone who is just seated to be greeted the “sit down there” greeting.

Why am I saying all of this? Maybe to tell you that I was at work today and you should tell me “welcome”.

I woke up feeling the itches from mosquito bites. I have not felt this in a long time. You know, I talked about power going off last night. I know that that there should be almost no mosquitoes on the third floor making me use the insecticide three times in three months…but this was not imaginative because I could see tiny red marks on my skin, the arms and feet to be precise. I had to spray before I left, though I still saw no mosquitoes.

There was a fight between the sun and rain today, but the sun won and so the rain did not disrupt work for too long. It meant we were able to leave on time and recharge the power.

I had gone with the computer to work, something I hardly do these days because it is always an additional burden and I will hardly use it. Today was different. I had a research to do.

Dinner is served and it got me scared. I was urged to finish it because I was so busy that I skipped lunch. I was not hungry, and my brother seeing a recent picture of me said I was “healthy on the face”. I got really concerned. My face having its own growth matrix is worrisome. People say that it is caused by eating rice in the night, and dinner was rice.

 

TUE 28

“Foolishness is tied to the heart of a [child]”-the Bible

So, I used to think I am very experienced when it comes to child-rearing. You see, it is not really the claim about having non-biological children, but I have had my life pretty much wrapped around them, or rather they have had their lives wrapped around mine, whichever way.

The thing about them is that they are unique and fun to be with. I have however come across a few that ‘pass my power’ and realise that much work needs to be done in their early years to reduce the impact of foolishness, and when one come across an expression of foolishness, one should learn how to manage it and make them learn from the experience.

Today work went well and I got home on time. It was meant to be a pleasant evening where I spend most of it researching for a talk. As soon as I was done with dinner and set to start the research, power went off. I sat and waited for the minute or two it ought to take for it to be restored and it became 5 minutes in the dark. I went to the living room to see what was wrong only to realise that we ran out of power credit and it was not a power failure. Earlier, my colleague had gone in search of power recharge and that was quite early, I mean as soon as we got home and had dinner. He was not successful and we thought the power will last till tomorrow.

Now that the power went off, it felt like we were the biblical foolish virgins that went at midnight in search of oil for their lamp. It was funny because I just finished talking about cakes and electricity with the kids, a discussion that they were not too happy about.

I know a lot of kids love cakes and I did get them tiny pieces of cake but told them I had in mind a customised cake baked just for them and decorated with their names only for ‘my eye’ to tell me to forgo the idea because they have been too naughty to merit it. It took time for them to know why ‘my eye’ said that. It had something to do with electricity, putting everywhere in a dangerous position. It had to do with plugging an electric iron and leaving it for several hours, and the damage was thankfully not beyond the condemnation of the device and depletion of the power units.

I had talked to them on the dangers of electricity, electrocution specifically and the different types of electric shocks. They tried telling me it was a mistake, but I let them know that they seem to had forgotten the meaning of that word “initiative” when I was not around because they were in the house and perceived nothing, an external person detected it from outside. That said, they had a new leave to start working to impress ‘my eye’ as there are rewards and consequences of actions.

I call this type of child-rearing method The Reward System. It has rewards and deprivations as the main variables and instructions and actions as the main inputs. This system works many times and it is aimed at making young ones be responsible by desiring rewards until it becomes a way of life. The challenge of this system is that it requires initial continuous effort. A friend will laugh off my methods as “western” and often criticize it as being too soft. I know that “the cane is for the back of the stupid one”, but the bible also calls cane “the rod of discipline” meaning that it is often symbolic.

I spoke with someone in the capital of the Promised Land today. I did speak with my sister, but I am referring to someone I have not met yet. You see, I like it when young people are trying to carve a niche for themselves and I do everything to support this. We will hopefully meet to tie the loose ends of a deal. It is the second year that she wants to run a poetry event. I could remember her starting and a pen friend introducing us. I am always full of funny ideas and suggestions and last year, they worked. This year, I wanted something else. Funding is always a problem for these events and I like the crowd she is pulling already. I am suggesting a new method of funding and will likely demonstrate it to show how it works. In case you are curious, the event is called Ibom Poetry Day.

There was someone else I should meet in that city. A young sports caster. We have tried to meet a couple of times and I have been the one failing to honour the meeting because of engagements. I will try this time around. You see, when I am in that place, I use to wish I should have a driver that carries me around as I will have a thousand people to see. I cannot do that because I do not have such money…or will you pay for it?

[Hissing] I now know how painful it is not to have power when all your neighbours do. Let me force sleep to come.

 

MON 27

“If you do not know where to start, start from the middle”-the writer, Ellah Wakatama-Affrey

Ellah made that statement last year when she took us on the 9mobile Flash fiction workshop. She was talking about writing a flash fiction. I laughed when I heard her say that, I knew that it could easily be taken and credited to her as her quote as if she patented it. No, this is not about one of the loveliest writers I have met, but about ‘not having a name’. This “start from the middle” phrase is what I was known for from childhood. Let me stop there.

Why did I come up with this ‘start from the middle’ phrase? It is because I have too many things to say and do not know where to start. You know, I hurriedly talked to you yesterday and said goodbye when the night was still young because I thought there will be nothing eventful afterwards. There was. It was not really about going to the hotel reception to buy something and staring at an artwork on the wall so much that the receptionist said that I should definitely be an artist, it was something else.

You see, some 70 persons, a congregation had reserved rooms in the hotel and were meant to arrive that night. Someone told me that someone I knew was with them, and it happened that I knew most of those they, they were coming from my hometown and were in a congregation that shared the same kingdom hall with my home congregation for years. It was a shock to see them and I saw more people this morning, including a secondary school friend…who is recently married.

Today was a very beautiful day. I was awake by 4.30am and went out to meet some other people I knew from the congregation from home. Some of them stayed at the same wing of the lodge as I did. It was nice to meet them.

We did the daily text in our room and when we were out for breakfast by 7am, those in our congregation did the morning worship again as we waited for breakfast. Breakfast came and it was amazing setting up a table that could contain the over 30 that we were. I have to quickly say that ours was amazing because the other congregation made a setup that contained over 70 of them.

We were early for the tour, too early, I suppose and had to wait at one of the payot huts. As I often hear, I noticed that there were no mosquitoes on the very large facility, but there were just outside. I was also taking a keen interest on the hut design. It looked different, it was different.

As we were called for the tour and split into two different groups, work started at Bethel. We saw different people attending to their duties and there was a good representation of women in the work force. It was women that I saw operating the lawn mowers, driven the large motor mowers, and even driving the buses. It was even women that served as tour guides as we walked and looked and touched for the two hours.

Ours was a bit funny, making us give her a name she bore all through the tour, Precious. It was amazing the details she supplied and questions she answered, like the number of concrete blocks that was used to build the fence which took 7 months in 1983. I was however captivated by the technical and engineering details.

From a nature tourist perspective, the place was very beautiful and too clean for a place that hundreds of visitors visit each day. Nature was integrated into everything and it even had a forest. Animals like the antelope were not domesticated but roamed free such that taking close-up pictures were possible. It made believable the Bible’s talk about man and beast living together in peace in the future. It was an environment that sustainability was at its peak.

From the industrial perspective, there was sustainable manufacturing and efficiency. There was near zero wastage, a lot of energy saving and recycling. Even fumes were filtered and only clean air released, there was no noise pollution as the generators were…soundless, there was 99.99% paper recycling, waste paper being sucked up and made into carton and tissue paper. The process was mechanized, using CNC machines where the computer does most of the work itself. It was amazing.

From an artistic point of view, I do not just know what to say. It really did feel like paradise. I think I have borrowed some ideas I will use in future. I do not know where to get one 6-bladed giant fan that took hot air from inside and brought in cool air like an air conditioner does, but I will attempt the sun dial technique. It was amazing the lady told the time without a watch to a one-minute accuracy level.

Then I really did get ideas for my ambitious “floating gallery”, I liked their simple archival gallery and I may not need too many items to set up mine.

Well, after lunch, the journey came to an end and we left by 1pm. It was a lovely trip home too.

I stopped by to say hi to someone in the congregation as soon as we got down from the bus. I must also mention that Tboy is posted to Delta, being the first person I know that will have a second chance at NYSC. It is significant that he got Delta because that is where I served.

As I was on my way back, I got a beep. At first it was a phone number I did not know and just as I was about to call back, I realized that it was the one I call My Lawyer. I smiled. You see, it is amazing watching kids grow and doing you bit in guiding their path. When they reach out to you, it is a beautiful thing, so I placed her on the “beep me and I will call you back” list.

I also appreciate it when parents make the best use of the holidays kids have. Attending summer classes where they teach them as in schools is a waste of time. Trips are good, but making them learn skills they will use later in life is best. My Lawyer is learning how to bake. “It is stressful” she says and will take three months. I hope after it she will be able to design a cake that looks like a person.

SUN 26

“Trips are therapeutic ”- Me

I have been to many places and have taken many trips, so people always ask more about where I am. They have the wrong idea about my traveling, thinking I just decide to be at one place or another without proper planning.

Well, I have for years been ashamed that I have not been to one place, the Nigeria Branch Facility of Jehovah’s Witnesses near Benin City. Why do people often say “you should be ashamed” when I tell them that I have not visited it. It has nothing to do with its religious importance but more of its natural, tourist and industrial significance.

You see, one of those who said I should be ashamed for not visiting is a former colleague who is not a Witness and had visited the facility. He said it is “like heaven on earth” and I understood that to mean being picturesque and very organized.

A ten-year-old cousin said she gave me the whole of last year to try and visit but I could not. Perhaps they are right to suggest that I should be ashamed, after all I have been to several national parks, wildlife parks, zoos, waterfalls, peaks…I have gone on week-long adventures, all-expense-paid trips…so I had no excuse.

They should not be too hard on me. I had always turned down hush trips to Bethel because I felt I will not be able to see all I could see. Well, time passed and I started to look for any trip at all and could not get one, or if I do, it will be when I would be away. When this trip came, I grabbed it, risking coming from Lagos. Well, it was a calculated risk and I am glad I took it.

So, I took the trip today. It was unlike the trips I took in secondary school to various places. It was not also like the trip Coca-Cola paid for that we flew, used branded items and had journalists and guides. It was a bit like the trips for congregation sports we did in Lagos, where all that came along had the same mind and there was no battle with shocking or unruly characters. It was a sane journey of over 5 hours to the town, no, village that the facility is located. Of course there was good road, but I think I did not really see much life around the village.

Now, don’t be too fast to ask me about the facility because we are touring tomorrow. We lodged opposite the facility…okay, maybe it is a no-star hotel, but it had everything, including hot water tap. It had everything in its own way and it surprised me a bit.

Okay, we travelled in a 32-seater bus and you know what that reminded me of…someone tells people who are too curious that that wedding will be in a “32-seater moving vehicle” and this was one. I wonder where it will be moving to, the said wedding vehicle.

The journey reminded me of those nature trips, especially when we were on the road the facility is located. There were forests and plantations and green and calm. I still remember one funny teacher. He would say:
“What is the comparative analysis between this place and Lake Chad?” When you laugh, he would try to emphasize why one should be able to answer a question of that nature.
“In my time, they asked questions like: ‘Egypt is the Nile, the Nile is Egypt, explain.’ That is much more difficult.” We will laugh more.

The good thing is that I have experience traveling, road trips and all. I try not to eat during journeys, I snack or eat something light. Then I manage fluid intake. Having done 21, 19, and many two-digit hour trips several times, 5 hours was ‘a piece of cake’.

Well, the evening was for games and socializing, but for me, it was for typing this out for you and tying ends of mails about work.

I could have easily played football, but I did not bring boots along.

SAT 25

“Sometimes, the best friend you could have is yourself”- Me

There is something about sensitivity we can never balance, and what is intended is not always received kindly. People say it did not come out rightly, but I think it is really how it is received than how it came out. We are shaped by too many different things that our way of thinking is so different. I think it is often a case of being tolerant even in things we can be upset with and diffusing tension with a lot of humour.

I am supposed to be a very sensitive person because I read too much as a kid (anything other than school books). I suppose that made me know a lot about what is obtainable elsewhere and thus compare. Curiosity made me read, but even in reading I was very selective. I was always asking why something is accepted to be a norm and could disregard it if there seem to be no sense behind it.

You are wondering why I am writing this. Perhaps it is because of the moon. She was so pretty today and so fair and so full that I smiled back at her and I realise there was no animosity in my heart towards her, after the stunt she pulled that day we had a date, that day she was meant to come for it dressed in red.

Whatever the case, I think it is good to take into consideration the sensitivity of other people. What may not hurt you may hurt them, even what you intended to make them smile. Now that is the key to keeping levels of relationships. Do not laugh and smile to everyone. There may be friends you have that a frown make happy. Know how to discern how each one is and act with that person accordingly.

Now, no matter how close a friend may be, if he tells you “I did not like what you did, I just want to tell you” and then you did not remember, find your shell and retract into it a bit because your “normal” life is the problem.

Well, work went well today, but I had meetings to attend in the evening, 5pm. I did and it was interesting…until Benetia decided to come over to my seat and disturb me. He sister on the other hand was crying. She was furious that she was not called to make a comment despite raising her hands several times. I had to take her to the person that conducted that part and he apologized and promised to call her another day “twice”.

Let me pack up, tomorrow is near and I do not want to be left behind. Please remind me to tell you something tomorrow.

FRI 24

“The thing about life is that you often do not have the things you deserve, but that should not stop you from putting in your best”- Me

I woke up today almost broken, very tired and late. It surprised me that I was feeling that way; but also, I was surprise that I was surprise. I think I always have this feeling that I was “built tough” like one Ford 4 wheel drive advert stated those days. I still believe I was not created strong but tough.

Sometimes, it seems I like taking up stress, challenging it for a fight. Maybe it gives me thrills, maybe it makes me sane, I do not know. I sometimes feel that there is just a thin line that separates me and a live of owning a 4×4, carrying a camera and going around the whole place in the name of adventure. Well, at least I am not doing that now.

I was not meant to join the team for work early as I needed to sort my bank issues first as early as I can this morning. Well, there was change of plans and I felt the excitement of short notice and racing against time….wait, am I normal? And as they went to get some items in town, I dashed to the bank, I wanted to do everything in a little time. I can remember always looking at the phone to see if the call would come in, that they are waiting outside the bank as it was the route they will take. In the end, it was a good decision as I finished and waited for them.

Work went on well, and but I was still feeling dizzy and tired and for one of those rare times, I felt hungry. Hunger is something I rarely feel in the Garden City even when I eat less and less often than in Eko. In fact, I am beginning to feel that just like my brother said getting fat is due to peace of mind, peace of mind can be a cure for hunger.

I got the permit signed for work tomorrow. I should be around and leave early in the evening for meetings. It is strange working on Saturdays, is it not?

So, we got back early today. There was no significant traffic jam. The kids on holiday did miss me and I am wondering what difference it makes if I am around or not.

The one I call My Personal Assistant, the one that is 6 tugged along:

“Brother, are you going out again?”

“No”

“Okay. I want to ask you a question. You said you are travelling on Sunday”

[surprise that she remembered] “oh…yeah, I am going for a short trip. Just a day and I will be back”

“so you will not attend church on Sunday?”

“Service is shifted for Saturday because the congregation is going for the trip”

“brother, are you a pastor?”

“no”

“is a lie…”

“no, I am not”

“but why did that uncle call you “pastor” that day?”

“which uncle?”

“the one that use to sleep in the other room, that buy us that malt in the fridge”[my colleague that came from Lagos]

“oh…he was just joking”

“so if you are not a pastor, why did you use that thing and tie your neck like pastor people?”

“that is a tie. People wear it when they want to dress well”

“so why do women not tie it?”

“I meant, men wear it when they want to dress well. It is call corporate dressing…like when you work in the bank…”

“what do women wear when they want to dress well?”

I was tired of answering. Children can ask questions. I answered that last one and told her to come back because I wanted to study. Look at the trouble a necktie got me into…the thing around my neck!

The rest of the day went well, like she insisting I stay in the parlour to send the mails I needed to. Is she not my PA again? I retired later because I was tired, and I was also tired of being tired, so I devised a way to solve the problem. I decided to watch a movie till 1.30am. I had not seen a movie in a long time. I knew that by doing that, my brain will realise that I am not paying attention to its attention-seeking game and fix itself.

I got a movie with a good rating but I was skeptical about until I saw that it was by Emem Isong. That lady does only A-listed movies and it did not surprise. It was a movie with a lot of sense called The Village…don’t judge a movie by its name!

THU 23

“In the end, the greatest asset that we may have is people”- Me, in a conversation

I woke up today not knowing where I was; that was how peaceful the sleep was. I mean it was as if the stress of the past 24 hours was gradually being taken off and I wondered if the rather very high bed with almost a metre long metres had a massaging effect.

I had discussed business with my brothers yesterday. You may think it strange because my siblings are kings when it comes to business ideas. The one I am with for this short trip is a shrewd business person, the one I discussed with over dinner at the mall is one of the best persons I have met with in the world in terms of business ideas, it flow from him, but he functions better from an advisory role, that is why he is a business consultant. I still wonder why he got the mall so right. I had gone there yesterday to tell him how inferior it is to the Spar in Lagos near my home, but I left amazed.

So, what can I possibly tell them about business? Well, people say that business flows in our veins, that we have “igbo-blood” or a kind of inbuilt business savvy. I have long doubted this. All my siblings have been involved in a kind of business or another, except myself. So, I had long concluded that I am the exception to this blood thing. Let what I told them bother you, because I will not tell you for free.

Let us go to the business of what brought me to this city. I was bracing up for an eventful day, by that I meant an event-full day and breakfast was just on time. I was wondering why that my friend had not dropped a message to tell me I could start coming to process the passport. Yesterday, it was as if I will be the one to open the gate with the security men in the morning, but I woke up feeling lazy and full of “what if”s. I left home by the 9am I was supposed to report at the secretariat, thinking that government workers may as well resume by 10am after a public holiday. What I did not know is that someone was waiting for me, and the friend-relative-pal I was meant to meet was away.

You should not blame me for expecting little from anything that has to do with the civil service, I have had a painful share, me that like my things to be straight and programmed. Let me even mention 1. I still have the physical prizes from a 2004 national essay I won either sitting in the Ministry of Education of my state or now in peoples’ houses. The painful thing is that I do not know what those things were. I used to see them, plenty, piled up in a room those early days I started writing commissioner, and director and governor. I got tired and stopped. Story was that they were not willing to give the prize like that without a grand reception. Now, those prizes were not from them. They were from NCF, NBC and Bridget White Foundation. Let me stop there.

So, in the end I got my passport, not by 11am but by 3.30pm. All the “what if”s that the laziness of a sound sleep induced, popped up, but one that I never expected came with it such that missing out on the bank today became a welcome development and heading back to a Garden City that Noah’s rain fell was more important.

I got back, but there was traffic on the ‘east-waste’ road due to a decay of that road and the traffic flavour the rain brought. It was in that situation of little hope that I was forced to speak out for a few seconds in the bus. I had to correct one knower who, though was correct about the deplorable condition of the road praised ‘apapa port roads for being smooth and devoid of traffic’.

I told him I live and work in Lagos, often in Apapa and the road leading to Tin Can is one of the worst roads ever and that what we are in is not traffic, in many parts of Apapa, you don’t wait on the road, you sleep there. The man was just bringing back the horrors of nasty Apapa ordeals…is it trekking, is it containers fallings….please, I don’t want to have nightmares…and you, you are still listening.

Meanwhile, the lady beside me in her 50’s or so was amusing me in another way. She was praying-cursing those who are “stealing our money” and causing the bad road. She said it will not be well for their “generations unborn”. She was burning them with Holy Ghost Fire and it felt like no extinguisher could quench it.

That woman was one of the nicest persons to travel with. She was very educated and behaved like a retired school principal…crisp English and all. She started by making me laugh. She had kept her bag on the seat next to her as if someone was there as I wanted to board the bus. I however inquired and she said “thank God you are not fat, if you were, I would have said that the seat is taken”.

Now, what was my impression of their service, I mean the immigration guys. You know, uniformed people may not even been to the atmosphere, but they talk about having stars as if they joined God to create them. In view of that…a very stingy me will give them a rating of 3.75/5 stars.

My rating is not influenced by their smart uniform that looked “matured”. They have an efficient system that they allow to work. Now, I know that they carry guns, so don’t let any of them know I am writing something about them. Please, I do not want to do “grasshopper jump”.

Let me talk about those that impressed me.

I will start with the one that did not impress me at all. I had wondered why he decided to run away but I now know. We had talked about growing horizontally the other time. He felt I would come with a measuring tape to confirm so he feigned an outside duty assignment. He coordinated happenings from far away, a credit.

Then there is one who sacrificed even sleep to ensure that I go it on time. He showed a great example of self-sacrifice. I was just pitying him. He had a surname that sounded scary though, especially if you set your mind to the Igbo mode and letter d to the beginning.

The lady that helped out with the printing was dutiful and willing to assist. When I had issues with my file that required my providing a clearer document for printing, I called my brother who did not seem to have a scanned copy. There was I playing game on my phone and saying that anything that should happen should happen only to be surprise that all the while, she was looking for a solution. Now, looking for a solution and assisting is one thing (actually two things), doing so with extreme courtesy and without complaint is another.

Then there was a woman in that capturing room, she will want to pull your legs first but she was pretty nice. I used to hear that women are the most difficult to work with in offices, but I saw the contrary. The two issues I had were from the men. Even the not-so-clear printing was Okayed by the lady, she said she could read it, but the man said no way. Then another man said the “k” in my LGA certificate was written like “lc” so I should go and correct it. I mean correct it where na? Go back to my LGA and look for a woman that may have been retired? It was the same lady that called off the bluff and said the relevant thing was the official LGA in Nigeria which mine corresponded to.

I will go on to mention a lot of other things, but I went to the mall, my brother’s office and then went with him to meet a client, pretending to be in the team. It was fun and it was a good way of spending the three hours of waiting for the passport.

When I got back, I met the last of them I will mention. Someone with the same name as a Biblical queen and sounded like someone auditioning for The Voice when she spoke. She was so helpful and in minutes I got my passport. I was surprise she asked if I understood Ibibio even with my 2/3 Ibibio official name. I mean, do I look that English…Abasi mbok! She was very courteous and kind, outside being detailed and efficient.

I think if there was something positive about our work system in the country, this was it. I however do not know if I was just lucky to meet the right people today, but if this was a mere show and pretense, then let them not stop pretending…I can say all I can now that I am out of that place and there is no more intimidation. Nigerians on Facebook will say: oya come and beat me!

WED 22

“…if you wait for a golden coach you will not move on. TAKE A STEP…” Me

Today was the opposite of yesterday. Yesterday started beautifully and ended on a sad note. Today started in a not so good mood and ended beautifully. Stop. Think. Pray. Worked.

Where will I start from? I have suffered too  much from bank charges, so I wanted to move money meant for work to a bank….long story cut short: I had money meant for someone trapped and no way to send money for the person as it was a public holiday. To get the money back, I needed a document I was not with and even if I were with it, then it would take 48 hours after submission. It was really a messy situation.

Well, I was on it from 1am, slept a bit, slept over it and started again before 6am. I was able to resolve it only by past noon; then I headed for Uyo to resolve the main issue by tomorrow. I was totally mentally stressed, but that is what I seem to be built for withstanding the pressure and looking for a solution.

I think when it comes to solution, whenever I decide to let myself call people and look for help, I always know whom to call and when there is no solution, there will at least be a genuine attempt. I think in the end, the greatest asset one really have is people.

I did not spend all my time wandering, I spent it working on a design I was expected to deliver as it was urgent. I was glad I finished it today as promised and sent it. The recipient, my direct boss, was grateful. You know, I had the option of not doing it and stating that I was out of station, but it was best to do all I can.

I was in a hurry to Uyo as I wanted to join my brother for Christian meetings and from my calculation, I will get there just on time. So, it was a bit worrying when the driver parked for people to urinate, but it was understandable. When after 45 minutes, a man who had gone to ease himself earlier started shouting for the bus to stop for him to ease himself. That is when I realized that it was not urine.

I arrived and chartered a tricycle to meet up. I was right on time but did not know the cloth I brought needed cufflinks. I had to fold the hands and not put on a tie to meetings.

Meetings went well, but as soon as I got back, my other brother asked me to meet him at the mall. It was an opportunity to be to the first real mall in Uyo. At least you know I seem to be one born for malls. I do not like bargaining or what I saw at Oil Mill market as I went to the bus terminal. I was surprise that it was bigger than our Ilupeju Spar, but with very little parking space and a mammoth eatery.

Tomorrow waits. Uyo is a city with terrible public power supply. Let me put off this generator, its midnight.

TUE 21

“What matters is not the number of times opportunity comes, but how often it is taken”- Me

So, I was up this morning and on my computer when the kid, the one I said is 6 knocked and opened my door.

“Uncle did you sleep at all?” I was confused.

“You said that you will be opening your eyes to watch us, why did you sleep?” I could not control my laughter. I had told them yesterday that I was “opening my eyes” on them, and she took that to mean not sleeping.

I was busy today, on the system, drawing and designing. That is work from Lagos and it was urgent. I could have declined doing it, but I had to. It was tedious. I had no time to follow the truck to pick a director in the company and a manager who were coming for a meeting in Port Harcourt.

Well, by 3pm I was tired, tired of being at one spot and only standing to walk and stretch. I had told the kids that there will be reward and punishment for the “initiative” exercise and they were eager.

“Tell us our position” they kept asking, “who is first?” I laughed at the way the little one thought it would be. Oh, I forget to mention that there is a very little one, not up to 2. We do not get along much because I have never seen a baby cry that much, mostly in pretence. Her screams can reach the moon, everyone is tired, even the parents. And she is strong and heavy. If she is there on her own, and you just go and pet her like a baby: “chu-chu-chu-chu…” expecting her to smile, she may if you are lucky. Most times, she will be upset, exert herself convulsively as if she is fighting seriously and the screamingly cry. You will ask yourself: who sent me?

Guess what…I guessed the age of the kids correctly (yesterday), they are 6 and 14.  Well, I thought they deserved a reward. We defied the rain and went to an amazing place: the Pleasure Park in the garden city.

The kids were pretty fearful at the start, but I think they eventually picked up. They even had deer there. Later on, they indulged and did not want to go.

My day was thus wet, busy and beautiful…until I got myself tangled in the cunny ways of banks. It is distressing.

Stop. Think. Pray

MON 20

“Give me neither poverty nor riches…”- from Proverbs, in the Bible

I took a stroll down the street this morning, say about 9pm and I saw where the batchers were, people were still scooping water from the stores. It was sad.

It is a modest thing to pray not to be “rich”, at least in the actual sense of it, with its distractions; but it is a sane thing to pray not to be poor. I do believe that poverty is mostly a thing of the mind, and many rich people are actually poor because they have a craving spirit, but, one should at least have the basic things in life and live in a way that is off the path of normal danger that is not a disaster.

So, this morning I got calls I refused to answer to. It was from the client. I had refused answering on Friday. What you do not understand is that I have been pegged in the middle of the storm and how I respond is critical. I needed to manage the situation tactfully. Well, I did. I sent a text in which I said nothing, yet said a lot of things if read between lines. Also, something I did was take the pressure off myself and put it where it ought to be and stop further calls coming my direction.

The management of different people, putting this delicate balance right, is one of the most difficult things in projects. I was afraid that this case was one of a dead end either way, but I managed to get it right and get results….some of it, at least.

Today, power supply was not as constant, so I spent a long time with the kids in the living room. I had time to enforce the NO TV rule, until a lot of things were done first. I noticed they watched too much TV. Also, I made them learn something about “Initiative”. It was a long session where I said I would “open my eyes” like stock fish. The kid you know is maybe 6, or whatever age teeth start falling. The other is a relative that came with them for holidays and I put the age at 14.

A very wet day. That is today.

SUN 19

“Prejudice.
Reminds me of Pride and Prejudice.
Reminds me of Jane Austen.
Reminds me of Effiong Godswill Samuel Bassey”-my friend Adonis Akwesa, in a Facebook post.

There were many quotes that contested to take today, but this one by Adonis was totally unexpected when I saw it this night, and placing my name next to the author of one of the best books I have read, I cannot help but mention that it is a mere inflation, but be full of pride all the same.

Today, prejudice was discussed at Christian meetings all over the world and it was an interesting discuss. We need to fight hard to uproot that bane, and it may shock us, the degree that prejudice has eaten deep into our hearts, seeds sewn by the environment.

Today, I met someone called Paradise, the first of such. I have had a basketful of names this August. It was a beautiful name on a beautiful day. It was sunny when I left the house but I was reluctant to pick my umbrella from the truck. I had thought the sun would be milder when we are out in service and thus make carrying the umbrella a burden.

After a lovely meeting, I was paired together with my “regular field service partner”, something that the person pairing attested to. Of course, she is the person I have walked with most being in my group. Those days it used to be members of a family that moved recently. I miss them a lot, and I have not contacted because I really do. That is how strange I can be sometimes.

Preaching was fine, and before it really commenced, we went to see a new baby in the congregation. He was two days old, Ethan, fair like the skies, almost as fair as I was when I was born. And he was already a big boy because he was not even crying.

I preached an area I could not remember preaching, and it was mostly gated apartments, but we did our best. The RVs and studying the Bible with interested ones was more fun; in fact we even exceeded the time that we were meant to close…

….for I took no note of the changing weather and the signs written on the clouds. When I did, I had to stop the study as we hurried to avoid being drenched. Oh…I still had time to buy tigernut drink, very cold one….and the rain got upset. Our umbrella was of no use as we sought a shade…it was Noah’s rain. I got into a tricycle and headed to amore central location by the dual carriage road, just a taxi drop from the house.

Many others gathered there and we found out that even that shade was not enough as the winds blew in the water and I felt really cold, but I sipped my cold natural drink. At a time, we may have been 15 gathered there and more were coming. It was only my shoes that were wet as water poured from heave. For about an hour, I waited.

When the rain finally subsided, I took a minibus to the entrance of my street. What I saw was…terrible. Though our apartment is located on the other side of the street where the land is high, the poor road construction seem to channel the water unto the street and there was a river that flowed into shops. This rain was devastating. The batcher people seem used to it. I was told that the water recedes after 10 minutes, but I stood there for over an hour, unwilling to call for the truck that would have swam past the water, pick me up and swim back. That is how I am sometimes.

I stood and watched, people laughing it off, the batcher people battling to fight the water, yet others dumping things into it. I was so sad, and like one man that was inspired to write something in the Bible I silently prayed: “give me neither poverty nor riches”.

I thought of the prophet to call on. I would need a submarine to call Jonah, an ark for Noah and a rod for Moses. Well, I eventually walked past on dry land!

SAT 18

“bia, why are you [men] so foolish? You are dying for one that is playing ‘hard to get’, yet, love is staring you in the face, hoping, begging to be given a closer look…”-a mother to a son in a top Nollywood movie.

I will not name the movie for a couple of reasons. It was embroiled in a legal case upon release with regards to the copyright of the original story. Though for what it was trying to portray, it had the adequate amount of twist, but there were one or two unnecessary scenes that make me give it a lower rating than it ought to and hence not recommended.

The quote above is my best lines in the movie and it was said by one of the most natural female actors in Nollywood…according to my rating. She is the best person to act a good and strong mother at any time. Her statement has dragged me into the controversy and I am disagreeing with her.

People say a lot of things about love that shows that they are either afraid or dogmatic or unrealistic. She is right in not hanging on to feelings that are not returned, or feelings that are not mutual in the first place; but she is not totally right in suggesting one should always go for love that stares and waits and hopes to be recognized. Depending on who you are, a hundred “loves” may be staring and hoping and waiting. So these things people say often ignore a lot of this reality.

I still maintain the head before heart formula because even your heart is tricky, I mean the first person it will trick is you. Many years later you may look back and see your foolishness. Why not stop and think and avoid the foolishness in the first place? I know you will start saying a lot of things about me and my strange ideas, but I do not bother. Ask me whatever extreme thing you want to ask: “So you will never fall in love?” Oh, is that it? Yes I will never FALL in love, because a fall is not the only act of motion…there is a walk, a stroll…

Bia, have you ever faced a situation of obsession? Then you have no right to argue with me.

Today was kingdom hall cleaning and I went for it. I was not too early though like other times that I will wait outside for up to an hour for the gate to be opened. It was an ok work.

I had a lot of work to do at home, one was preparing my talk which is just weeks away and I sat in front of the computer for many hours for all what I needed to do with the computer, and I barely scratched it.

I am tired. Good night.

FRI 17

“It is only when you have enough clothing materials that you try to sew zihizihibembem”-Me

I know what is on your mind: why type of proverb did you just compound. I suppose a couple of things so annoyed me that they tried to snuff out the beauty and peace of today.

Today was a great day, I spent morning till 1.30pm at the electrical market where we went to check prices and availability for items that will be used for the work. It was a very successful outing.

Earlier, I had gotten a call from site, it was a call that made me stand on my toes but the person knew that I had limited answers to some questions and in the end it was a call that could be helpful to me and the work as I battle to go back to my estranged city by the end of the month.

Then I got a mail in the morning that got me upset and I refused to reply it. It was almost a reminder that my table in Lagos is filled up with tasks that are left untouched in my absence. Well, that was not the problem, but the fact that maybe I needed two heads and two hands was. It is almost impossible to combine design and site work and I was expected to because of one “emergency”. I have not yet responded, you cannot really understand how it is.

Then I got a call I ignored. It was an innocent beep maybe, but the last five of those beeps have not been altogether innocent. It has been laced up with demands for money and I do not like responding to those demands when I am broke so that I may not disappoint the person being the “last hope”.

I spent considerable time in front of the computer making a detailed request with the help of the electrical engineer. I also did a couple of mails while little Mmesomachi was busy with my iPad, playing Caleb and Sophia videos, as she does every afternoon/evening.

Talking about gadgets, my phone decided to wear a stripe on the screen. I do not know what it is trying to tell me but that it is old and as an Android device, two years is a long time to avoid any repairs.

I got a call in the afternoon that I refused to answer. It was someone from the client’s head office. I had no answers for his possible questions. I preferred being wrongly tagged rude than playing righteous and telling a truth that will hurt everyone. And that guy is a tricky fellow, he may be in a meeting and put the phone on speakers, or even record my call. Let him call our Lagos office. If you like, run your mouth and tell him I declined the call. I will too whenever I eventually answer.

Did I tell you I got another call I declined? That one was disturbing me for an aspect of work I had no funds for or power to award. He likely called Lagos and they asked him to call me, taking pressure off themselves. I do not like people who sneakily try to lobby like asking for the quotation of competitors and technically suggesting they will give you “something”. I do not want any “something”. Ask those who know me on site. Do a good job and get out.

I had managed to set an awkward day and was about to go to bed in peace when I got a forwarded chat. My heart exploded. Is this how Nigerians are? I hate clutter and situations I am not in control, but tell that to Nigerians and they will play the snoopy, sneaky, leachy isantim style. Oh please, spare me the English lectures because I am upset. That word is the name in Ibibio for hippopotamus. It is used in an Ibibio story that it pushed the monkey from its cave in a rainy day by starting to ask for a little space to put its nose…head…and then it was in. In Ibibio, there is a proverb: “shift for me, shift for me makes one lose his space”.

I hate clutter, I like convenience. I put my life in line to assist, that is how we are, that is how dad and mum are, but mum warns that you only help when you are in a position to else you drown while doing so. Yes, if you want to choose a style of cloth to sew, you only choose zihizihibembem when you have enough material. It is a type of cloth for women that is often flowing and larger than life.

Please, people should leave me and us alone and not force us out of the country.

THU 16

“A good name is better than good oil”-The Bible

I went to site today, all of us, including the head of a unit that visited. I was glad that he visited site and saw the challenges we face. I was also happy that he met with the Terminal Manager and got the client’s perspective of a delay of over two months that could have been avoided if our management was proactive.

I believe that this visit will add to the weight of a need to closeout this project by the end of the month because Cici Eko is missing me, afraid that the relationship I have with Miss Garden is more than that of a Personal Assistant. Just days ago, kids from my Lagos congregation called via their mum. The question on their lips was when I will return. The response I got to my “in two weeks” reply startled me. They said it was too long, cutting out the suggestion before I made it.

On site we did a bit of feasibility studies for the electrical works, and then the visitor went round to inspect the works and give valuable suggestions. I learnt a great deal from his visit, such wealth of experience.

We visited another facility, had lunch and left, but it was not as brief as these few lines. We left deep into the afternoon hours such that I could not accompany them to the airport because today was a day for my Christian meetings and I cannot afford to be late and needed to prepare for it.

Today, the Nigeria U-20 female team crashed out of the World Cup. It was an interesting match, they are called The Falconets, but you know that that is not why I am quoting the Bible about names.

I met someone today and asked him of his name, he told me “Who Knows”, I had to think to realise he was actually telling me his name. I asked if his name was originally in English, he said no. I asked if his name is Aniefiok, and he said yes. It almost annoyed me.

There is this trend in Port Harcourt that make Ibibios change their names to sometimes something ridiculous. Even Jesus means Jehovah is my Salvation, why was the entire sentence not borne as a name? Utibeabasi will say his name is Miracle of God, Aniebiet will be Who Resembles…I wonder what Ikpaudo will be, maybe The Cane of the Second Son. I think these changes reflect an inferiority complex. You can change a name you do not know the meaning, or one that already have a known meaning that is used, not to make sentences in English and call them name. Even the supposed English names are sentences coined into a word.

Where the Ibibio translate names, the Igbo convert it to English: Ikechukwu to Iyke, Chukwu to Chuks, Emeka to Mekus, Obinna to Obaino, Kasarachi to Kars, Osinachi to Sinarch, Somtochukwu to…Sars…

It is actually the Edo that owns the original addition of s to a name to pluralise the missing letters in the short form. Osa means God in Edo and it cannot be someone’s name. So Osas mean that there are additions to the Osa. Now Beni has a lot of silent letters and hardly pronounced the way it is written. Osas may be Osadebamwhem pronounced as Osadebame.

The Urhobo and Isoko has cute shortened names and when they are said in full, they often sound like a jerking vehicle. Terga, Rega, Gaga, Akpos…I think it starts with the fact that most African names have “God”  in it, and Oghene is a thick word for Baba. Ogheneruakpor, Ogheneogaga, Onumuruakpor….

Yoruba names are rich in short forms. My Yoruba name for instance is Boluwatife. Not too long, but I can be Ife, Tife, Oluwatife, Watife, Bolu, Olu, Boluwa…etc.

Hausa names are….I will not tell you.

I was dropped off at meetings because rain fell, heavy rain just before I left. Meetings were very fine. I have work to do, good night.

WED 15

“the one that is faithful in least, is also faithful in much”-The Bible

It was a day that I had to start my activities early. Even when the usual constant power was there, I had to adjust to life in the Garden City after a brief indulgence from home. You know one of the biggest areas I needed to adjust was food.

I rushed breakfast and headed to the airport, and it was just past 7am. We had someone to pick up, the head of another unit who was coming for a meeting and one of the most reasonable persons in the office. You know I am someone biased towards reasoning abilities and if you can hold a civic conversation with me beyond an hour and I am not struggling to keep it going, you are safe.

I think the way I rate people also have a lot to do with mutual respect, objectivity, aura or carriage and having a world view. Interestingly, I did not need to watch you to classify you, a conversation on the phone or even a series of chat would do.

That explains why I could know people I have not met, and met them without any striking surprise…except of course you are a radio journalist. Radio journalists are one set of people with a high rate of disappointing faces. Let me leave it at that.

We picked him up from the airport and drove hive down to the facility he had a meeting in, the same plant we have visited a couple of times, that one I tell you is far off. The challenge of that place is that one could stand all day. There is no place to sit and external vehicles are not allowed in. Stood I did, the same way kids in my childhood years will look at someone and say “don’t look me like a Lucozade…standing like a Standard Bank…”

We had to look for a solution. Well, we found a shade and a seat. We sat there for a long time and I remembered the story of Jonah and how good a shade can be, one that has a seat….well, I should have thought about another story. That shade was the “smoking area” of the facility and in no time, people started coming there to smoke. You know the rest of the story. No wonder why Jonah cried.

Eventually, those for the meeting were through and we drove back. We wanted the boss to lodge at a hotel near the lodge so we thought we were heading home. We almost ignored his insistence on stopping to eat lunch. We felt he would see a restaurant to his taste near the lodge.

He insisted that he meant lunch for all, had a restaurant in mind. We went there and found piles of interlocking stones at the front door. It was a building undergoing renovation. Well, that was the beginning of a search for restaurants. We saw many, but they had no food. Finally, there was one that served my meal in a wooden bowl. I do not know if it was funny or innovative, but it almost felt like a village setting in a Nollywood movie. Only that the wooden bowl had a ceramic plate underneath, I could not ask if it was because of the heat or because it was leaking.

We took him to his hotel, but he did follow us to the lodge and spent over an hour with us. Did I not tell you that he was a nice guy?

I have not told you this, but I have had no time to write financial articles for a friend’s page, even after I wanted an official mail as a reminder and she did send me. I wrote one today. It was about my favorite fruit…apple!

TUE 14

“love out of a pure heart and a clean conscience”-The Bible

One of the biggest question on the expression of affection is the motive, and trust me, if you are a ‘naturally nice person’, motive may have been one question you find yourself often facing. It should be a big issue because “Pure Motive” was my ‘semester slogan’ for one semester in my university days. Other slogans included ‘live your life’, ‘love children’ and ‘nneka: mother is supreme’.

I have been saddened by what my town has become. With the growing stories of crime and thievery, you keep asking ‘where is the [superficial]love?’ that once permeated the place. It was a small communal town where there was money, but people cared. A town that when you were done with high school, it is people around that will ask what plans you have for your life.

With work being stalled yesterday, I travelled back to the Garden City today. It was sad to hear that the roads have become unsafe even with the multiple police points. It was a road notorious for robberies years back, the portions of the road not in my state.

It was a very interesting vehicle that I boarded and they made me laugh all through. At first I said nothing because the discussion was political, but it was more about civil servants being owed leave allowances. There were three civil servants, all ladies. Two teachers and one person working in the ministry of finance. There was one son of a civil servant…or were they two? Then there was a think-tin, because he was not fat enough to be called a think-tank. He seemed to have all the privileged information and declared love for my state that he has lived for 15 years.

Two persons were in support of the present state government’s economic policy, two were in support of the former administration; and did not bother if it was borrowed funds that were used to make money flow. The fifth person was sometimes for and at other times against. I was not saying a word but laughing. The woman against the present economic policy was very funny. She will punctuate her argument with: “please tell him to pay me my money” and she was talking to the think-tin man as if he was the governor’s brother.

Then the conversation shifted to the security challenges of the road and I could add many “are you serious(es)”, and I could effectively contribute when they discussed getting degree certificate from the university because I hope to in a few weeks. The conversation soothed my smoke-sensitive eyes and tears rose but did not drop.

When made the journey had a little sting at the tail was the driver not stopping at my regular stop because he said task force personnel disturb them. It was the first time I heard this and so went all the way to the park. I had luggage I could barely carry.

Well, one of the teachers was going my direction and it was very surprising when she offered to help me out and did. It brought back a flood of emotions and I remembered my town for what it was known for, love. Upon asking, I gathered that she was a teacher in the girls’ secondary school my sister attended, the one not far from the house. She however did not teach my sister who left before her decade-long stay.

It would have been easy to understand if this was me helping out an older person, but helping out someone who could have been your student a decade back was extraordinary, especially and we strolled some distance in search for a vehicle.

It may have been a tiring and lazy day ahead, but the day became exciting as it got older as my colleague brought his kids over for holidays. It meant I was reunited with one of them, an energetic kid of about 7…what age does the teeth start falling off again?

Straight away, she started testing my knowledge: “what is a noun?…what is a composition?…”

The way it  is going, I should sew a uniform. I was thinking NOUN meant National Open University of Nigeria.

MON 13

“Light is life“-Me

Today was very boring. I was at home all through, real home. I did work by sending many mails and negotiating with vendors on the phone, but that was really it for work.

Well, I am not forgetting the burglary of yesterday and I am not really in the mood of much talk. I was only lucky that my sister was around. She started my day with fruits and it was an indulgence I could remember. My sister can dote someone to a state that the word ‘spoil’ is appropriate to use.

There was no power supply, which was the most annoying thing. There was a bit of it in the morning but as soon as it was useful to me, there was a failure.

I went to see a neighbour and was able to hear the real issue between ExxonMobil and their Spy police. There have been protests in every ExxonMobil major establishment, and though peaceful, the protest is shameful.

For instance, in front of the Mobil Airstrip, the access was blocked and instead, there was a canopy with chairs and mattresses all through and there were black pots and firewood as the protesting dismissed workers made the gate their home.

I went through old files in search of some documents that will enable me get my original certificate from the university. It was like reliving memories and I was forced to conclude that even as a kid, I really knew how to write.

Lunch was on time and I was begged to eat…you know I like all the attention.

When Mother was back in the evening, there were many more goodies I have missed because of not being home. Every food I ate made me think that I have been eating food that is not food for months.

I wanted to start the ‘I don’t eat dinner’ thing, but the food was not much and I thought of eating half and ended up finishing it, licking the plate literally. Everything tastes so different here. I gave myself the excuse of weight. Despite being in the Garden City, I realised yesterday that I was barely weighing 60kg. When I return to Eko, I will shade off weight so I need to add some.

SUN 12

“Six days is for the thief, one day is for  the owner of the house“-a Nigerian proverb

Today started very beautifully. It was the essence of my coming over, to see my brother deliver his public talk or what you may know as sermon. It was one of those rare days that I am around and he would come to pick those in the house up for Christian meetings and everyone is ready and waiting. As we drove in, we noticed that my eldest brother and sister were in the vehicle in front, having come down from another city. It promised to be exciting times, especially as I had been away from my home congregation for months.

I am sorry I am having to write all of this over the second time. Blame my computer and especially almost non-existent power supply and my not having energy to battle a generator that has been dormant for months.

The talk was on walking in integrity and it was a wonderful talk. I really liked the illustration on treasure hunting and it matched. In the end, one psalm was focused on and explained. It was a calm and composed delivery and the audience was so attentive despite there being a lot of kids. That is the type of audience that the chairman would say “I than the audience of 105 who SAT DOWN AS ONE PERSON…”

Why were the kids not making noise? Well, I realised that they were reserving their lovely voices to comment during a very interesting Watchtower study. I mean one 4-year old with such a voice read the Bible so well that I turned and after meetings, I went to shake and commend him.

I met a lot of people too after meetings. Airport congregation is always warm, especially with us returnees. I met a lot of people I did not know, but who knew me, especially because of the family and Ezra. One person I will not forget meeting is Jahnisi. His name was so unique and pronounced like one Manchester United player. It was actually a juxtaposing of two Hebrew words and there may be only two people with that name in the world.

It was an extended pleasantry session and expectedly so, a type of session that you will greet one person and hold his hand and then talk to another and the third is waiting.

Well, our joy was cut short. My brother who normally keeps his phone in the vehicle during meetings saw tens of missed calls. He called back and learnt that his shop was broken into. It seemed strange because it had a guard, a burglary proof on the ceiling and a safe. In the rain of last night, the thieves had all the time to breach the defences and break the safe too. They swept everything and proverbially, ‘there was no pin left’.

It is such a sad thing, but my brother is pretty strong and will bounce back in no time. He is one person that would not want the display of pity. It was shocking because he is a ‘people’s person’ and everyone likes him. People were also sad because jobs could be on the line and a reduction of philanthropy. It is a heartless thing, thievery.

We went to his house and I stayed there until past 10pm when he dropped us off at home. I had to go there to watch matches and clear my head.

I wonder what my town has become.

SAT 11

“Six days is for the thief, one day is for  the owner of the house“-a Nigerian proverb

Today started very beautifully. It was the essence of my coming over, to see my brother deliver his public talk or what you may know as sermon. It was one of those rare days that I am around and he would come to pick those in the house up for Christian meetings and everyone is ready and waiting. As we drove in, we noticed that my eldest brother and sister were in the vehicle in front, having come down from another city. It promised to be exciting times, especially as I had been away from my home congregation for months.

I am sorry I am having to write all of this over the second time. Blame my computer and especially almost non-existent power supply and my not having energy to battle a generator that has been dormant for months.

The talk was on walking in integrity and it was a wonderful talk. I really liked the illustration on treasure hunting and it matched. In the end, one psalm was focused on and explained. It was a calm and composed delivery and the audience was so attentive despite there being a lot of kids. That is the type of audience that the chairman would say “I than the audience of 105 who SAT DOWN AS ONE PERSON…”

Why were the kids not making noise? Well, I realised that they were reserving their lovely voices to comment during a very interesting Watchtower study. I mean one 4-year old with such a voice read the Bible so well that I turned and after meetings, I went to shake and commend him.

I met a lot of people too after meetings. Airport congregation is always warm, especially with us returnees. I met a lot of people I did not know, but who knew me, especially because of the family and Ezra. One person I will not forget meeting is Jahnisi. His name was so unique and pronounced like one Manchester United player. It was actually a juxtaposing of two Hebrew words and there may be only two people with that name in the world.

It was an extended pleasantry session and expectedly so, a type of session that you will greet one person and hold his hand and then talk to another and the third is waiting.

Well, our joy was cut short. My brother who normally keeps his phone in the vehicle during meetings saw tens of missed calls. He called back and learnt that his shop was broken into. It seemed strange because it had a guard, a burglary proof on the ceiling and a safe. In the rain of last night, the thieves had all the time to breach the defences and break the safe too. They swept everything and proverbially, ‘there was no pin left’.

It is such a sad thing, but my brother is pretty strong and will bounce back in no time. He is one person that would not want the display of pity. It was shocking because he is a ‘people’s person’ and everyone likes him. People were also sad because jobs could be on the line and a reduction of philanthropy. It is a heartless thing, thievery.

We went to his house and I stayed there until past 10pm when he dropped us off at home. I had to go there to watch matches and clear my head.

I wonder what my town has become.

FRI 10

“You cannot hide what you have if you are not afraid of losing it”-Me

Today I woke up on time, but I was not very sure of when I was going to work. We were expecting the cargo vehicle from Lagos and we needed to be sure it was near before we proceed. Please, I called that vehicle cargo vehicle because I do not know what else to call it, that is not its name. I think people call it DHL, but in the ancient times, cargo vehicles were called 911.

We left for work by 9am when we got the signal to move. Before then, we were set and while having breakfast, I was listening to village stories my colleague told and laughing.

He was talking about masquerades. I grew up where there were masquerades at the end of the year, but these things had a lot of myth told about them.

I thought my living a semi-modern live, being born and raised in a housing estate with no gates and with trees made me have a semi-modern life. I pride myself with having knowledge of traditional things, simply because I see a few masquerades pass by each ember week. I should have realised that I can still count in hours the total times I have spent in anything that is a real village.  When I heard the stories of someone who had stayed in a real village, I was busy asking him “did you really experience this or did you read it from a book”? Because I thought it was from an Achebe book I never got to read.

How about the masquerade that came out with its ‘mother and brother’ and always at night. The one that blows off all light in sight…I think I read that in Arrow of God by Achebe, I never expected anyone to experience that. Even the python not being killed was taken by me as a long lost tradition. Let me not tell you more, you are not paying me.

On site, we were to move some items back to Lagos and we did. It took far more time than we thought it would, times that we watched helplessly as the rain and sun fought battles that left both of them with bloodied noses. I think the rain won most of it.

Father called today, and so did my daughter, the favorite one.

Well, they say one of the things I am most good at is giving advice. I do not know how true this is and I will argue it out. They also say that one of the things I am worse at is often deciding to mind my own business even when I sense that someone could need my help.

I do not know how to handle these allegations, but I try to stay out of troubles that are not mine before someone breaks my head. But sometimes, I will stay out and start feeling guilty, then I will step in, and my head is still broken. I meant mind’s head.

Last night, I slept this morning. My heart had skipped a beat when after writing to you and posting the writing, I realised that this page was scattered. My suffering started and I spent 3 hours, up to 2am to seek a solution. You should know how much I love you. I was willing to sacrifice the life of my sleep for you. It resulted in me creating another page for gathering these our little chats monthly. I call it “Goodbye Yesterday”.

Talking about sacrifices, it is not everyone that appreciates it. I am not saying that you do not, I am not also saying that you do. Your own problem is that you are afraid. Afraid of what I might think or do, either feeling that you are too deserving or not deserving. I think you should root those off your heart. ‘Love throws fear outside’ the Bible says.

There is nothing as good as a free mind. Bury grudges, bury fear, have a free mind. Make excuses for others, settle conflicts, live a free life. I told someone those today. I had to step out of my comfort zone and give a piece of my mind.

You may not live a perfect life in the end, but you an live “a life than one cannot wish for more”.

Mum called. I should meet them tomorrow. What do you think?

THU 09

“Life is about relationships; the longer the relationships, the firmer”-my friend Ogbonnaya Agwu, in a conversation last night.

Yesterday I talked about my 4th non-biological daughter with so much pride, but I did not hesitate to say that dis-daughtering her crossed my mind because of unacceptable actions that were largely taken out of ignorance and fear. People think I am “principled” and their definition may be to take actions like a wild boar when lines are crossed. I am not like that mbok.

Let me dodge the question. Why did I hesitate? That firm relationship that she laboured to build was too firm for to be broken by that tempest. It was too strong.

So, last night I told her sister: “your sister was lost, but now she is found” and that one asked “which one?” as if she knew any of them. You see, I have extended the complexity of family to them, but let me not wash our clean satin outside, there are washing machines.

Ogbonnaya and myself were talking about the attractions of anywhere we call home, no matter how imperfect it is. It is not merely the place and system that we desire, but the relationships that are built. When we stay long in places, we long for them when we leave. For someone like me that move a lot, I long for several places and I go back to see these places changed. Thus true goes the line in my poem “…home is… a lump in my broken heart, unchanged.”

Today was Christian meetings and like I feared yesterday, it was a wet day. So yesterday was indeed a Wet-next-day.

Meetings were lovely. I cannot forget Fejiro’s first Bible reading. He read so well and varied his voice to convey emotions of the person speaking. There was a thunderous applause after it, and it was even asked to be repeated. The interested person beside me whispered: “that boy sharp!”

There was a meeting for those desiring to go to Bethel afterward. I meant visiting the Nigeria branch complex of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Igeduma, Edo state.

Talking about being a Witness, it makes one answer many names: pastor, teacher (not Titia), bishop…and no matter how you refute it, they will still call you that. Sometimes, your modest dressing will make them suspect that you are a Witness, I had those instances in the university.

Outside “pastor”, one name that sticks is “man of God”. In fact some people will ignore what you are saying until you acknowledge the name. It was then surprising that when I met a little boy at the Kingdom Hall, greeted him warmly and asked his name, he simply said “Man of God”.

It took two more asking to realise that the boy was named Man Of God, or do they write it as Man-Of-God or ManofGod? Who did this thing to this boy na? I thought I saw names in Patani, but this one beats my imagination. I had seen Bank, Gun, Doublebarrel, Councillor, Fineface, Finecountry, Patani, Taxi and Calabar bourne as names in Patani, but ManofGod or Man-of-God is in a league of its own.

My daughter called this evening, not any of the ones so far mentioned. You do not remember her? The favorite one na…the one I said does not want me to end her calls and call her back because she is a big girl. She did the same thing today and I did start to feel guilty.

My kids could learn anything from me, but not long calls. I am ver very worried and slllleee sleepy sleepy. Tomorrow na, e go be!

WED 08

“How come everyone talks about the pains of love and loving, but no one talks of the pains of being loved”-Me, in 2016.

The pains of being loved! I do not know where I get my ideas from or why my mind is always trying to do the opposite of things that people perceive as normal. However, this thing I wrote is very true, I have been loved all my life and many times, being loved could be a painful experience.

What I mean is that you do not love back everyone that loves you, often, you run away or battle to seek a soft landing for people when running away does not work. It is really a difficult thing, this being loved. You will not understand.

I think being always loved could actually affect loving, someone who is always loved does not believe i fighting for love. I mean should something as beautiful as love be subjected to something as ugly as a fight? Let us forget about it, because if we start talking about this, we will not leave this place today. Where are we sef?

So, we were waiting for an item from Lagos today and those guys bringing it did not seem it fit to keep us informed. It scattered our work plans, and I am a pretty arranged person for some of these discrepancies.

I was in that perplexed mood when a call lighted my entire week. It was about love, one that was not sought but totally accepted. You see, I was on the verge of disowning my last daughter. She was someone whose ‘childhood’ I have fought for the most. I threatened and remained firm. You see, that kid forced her way into being number four in a way no one has, and she was just 8. I mean she cried and refused to do a lot of things and I wondered what really she will gain.

Simply put, I lost her for 8 months. She moved to stay with relatives who did not share her faith and those one forced deprived her of her freedom of worship and cut her off from her faith. Of course, she gave me the details today, but I had lost her when she was excited to go at the initial instance.

“Guess who is calling” she had said over the phone. Her voice had changed and I got it on the third guess.

Why did she come back? She could not take it anymore, luxury was not enough to make her forget Jehovah. Everything relating to her faith was confiscated and she was isolated. She felt alone and afraid.

In time, she developed courage and refused to eat to force her way back home. It was out of fear that they called her mother, their sister to come and take her away. She said she was now happy, she will be able to worship God the ways He wants her to. I was so proud of her and happy I decided to delay the disowning process while putting the pressure I can. I was happy that despite none of the pressure getting to her, she decided to worship Jehovah on her own and now believes that the true God is not so poor so as not to be able to afford her school fees.

You should know this my non-biological daughter number 4, she is famed for the quote:

“Gifts are not meant to be expensive but precious.”

I will tell you about the story later if you remind me. I am so happy that I got her back, at least I have fought for this love and her love for Jehovah is reconnected.

I had to share the news with her non-biological sister today. That one was in school battling her project…let me complain like a parent: these children will not want to tell someone their challenges…the same thing my mum always complain of. She said I was someone that tried to solve my problems on my own.

Today was a wet day, and I am afraid that it may be a Wet-next-day as the type of rainfall had is one that only go on breaks and refuse to stop. Work cannot be done during rain, so today was a lazy day.

In the evening I went to cut my hair and again, this barber’s shop adjacent to the compound we live will always have a way to be a religious cafe as soon as I go to cut my hair. You should have remembered the last times.

You see, there have been so much political drama in the past month that I wonder if political faithfuls are so dumb. To come across religious dummies from what I could not stop listening to while cutting my hair made my left and right mind to start an argument on who was the most dumb between religious and political faithfuls.

Okay, I am typing this beyond the 9pm watershed and children are meant to be asleep, but I will try to reduce the vulgarity. It was a supposed testimony time in a very popular church here in the Garden City. On a rating scale, it is the second most popular “Bible believing” churches.

I heard the voice of a maiden coming out to testify that there was a prophecy the church CEO made. I made no mistake because these are businesses. The man said(as it was replayed):

“There is someone in this church whose urine smells…that person should buy coconut and use it for assignment”. Now, if you are not Nigerian, an “assignment” is a churchy way of saying “ritual” and they could range from smearing olive oil to bathing with holy salt. Even at that, the coconut baffled me.

Well, the young woman said she bought the coconut because her urine used to smell. I asked myself when urine became “odorless liquids” because the urea in urine makes it stink. Anyways, the girl said that very night, her urinating many times before morning ceased and she urinated only once from morning to 6pm…my doctor friends will say that she was withholding waste and metabolism and it is dangerous.

I know you are interested in the miracle of turning urine to water…she said it happened. That she urinated on the ground, bent down to smell it and it had no smell. Then she urinated in a bucket the next day in a bucket, put her face into it and covered her head to perceive, no smell. In the end Jesus was praised for the miracle. Sometimes I wonder why My Lord does not just extend his finger and give some people a slap.

Another woman came out with her husband and gave the same urine story and I kept wondering why it was taking so long to shave.

Then there was another testimony, a woman came out with her husband and two kids, the eldest an 8 year old girl. She said that after giving birth to two children, the enemies “stopped me to have a male child and made the machine gun of my husband to stop working”. I started to be scared, afraid the man will come to the church with a functional “machine gun” and start shooting.

Well, the “machine gun” prophecy was replayed and it was “there is someone whose machine gun will start working this night and your wife will be preg…” I am out of here. There was a full church full of people and an 8-year old part of the testimony.

TUE 07

“It is not food that makes me fat, it is peace of mind”-my brother, Solomon

There are many ‘crosses’ in my life: cross culture, cross surname…sometimes I wonder if my life is always at crossroads. I did not add my brother’s surname because he will be looking like my uncle. My surname is his middle name. Forget about me and us, our lives could be too complex for story books.

Well, interestingly, my Igbo mum is most responsible for my Efik-ibibioness. I am one kid that had out of the world ideas and as a kid, they nicknamed me at home mbakara Japan which means when translated “Oyibo Japan” and when re-translated “Japanese white man”. I cannot really know why this was so, or did I go around claiming I am Japanese? Well, I may have had a thing for Japan because I still know that konfu is Japanese washu, and I once wrote a full story called The Missing Heart set in Japan.

Well, even inside my culture, I am still cross-cultured. Mum says that it is a type of culture in my place to put maidens about to be married in fattening rooms. It is an almost abolished culture but still sparingly practiced in some areas. The maidens are fed and not allowed to work. They are treated like princesses and pampered and their skins massaged and under the watch of their mothers-in-law. When they are brought out of the ‘ufok nkwoho’ it is always fanfare.

It is funny the names they are given, ‘nkwoho’ which is an Efik name that suggests being cripple. I think it rather suggests inactivity and immobility, and rightly so because they are not allowed to perform tasks.

Why was this practice mentally abolished? People will cite heath reasons, they will say eating much at a time is not healthy. I even hear the maidens could be beaten if they do not eat. I believe that the modern trend is to get thin and skinny before marriage. Maybe we should open ‘Ufok Mbiong’ or Hunger Houses for the present generation.

Why did I remember all of these? Many of my friends wrongly believe that I have all the answers to their funny questions. One of them recently asked why women get big (‘fat’ is a bad word in some countries) after marriage. Well, I did not argue with the claim even when I am not a sizist.

Yesterday, when I visited a friend and her family, I noticed that she was now twice her thin self of a few years back. Could it be that the fattening rooms are now in the matrimonial homes and no more a pre-marriage preparation? I do not understand it myself.

Women do a lot of things, mothers and wives in particular and I have total respect for them. They work more when they are married and I think they should even be thinner, but my brother may be right in his ‘peace of mind’ claim.

My brother Solomon used to be a very fine young man, a kind of pre-surgery  Michael Jackson. He hardly eats and runs around the whole place for business, but it seems the more he runs around, the bigger he becomes. He is still average, but twice how he used to be, but this peace of mind must really be a meal full of fat.

Today I did much of my work on the computer and on the phone, so you should know that I am a bit worried about growing horizontally. The thing is that they say what I have is muscles and not fat, but I cannot take chances for too long.

I got a long call from Far Away and I was glad. It was my Big Friend again and there is a faint possibility of seeing him soon.

MON 06

“The end of the fowl’s feather is on the knee”-An Ekid proverb

Yesterday will not be complete if I do not mention that I spoke with my second cousins in Surulere. On question on the mind of the kids was when I will be back. I also chatted up a friend to find out how the convention was in that faraway place.

Sometimes a lot of people misunderstand me when I make routine calls. I spent the last 7 days doing that. I am good with keeping in touch and often say that I do not make friends but “keep them”. They are always safe in my heart and I always think about them. Sometimes, a mental clock will ring and it will mean that they should be called or contacted and often, I will recharge my phone for these calls. Typically, those calls last for between a quarter of an hour to an hour person. I prefer spending this quality time than multiple calls of a few seconds.

So…work took its toll again today, but this was the week that I would begin to breathe. What I mean is that work should be less intense and I should close at the appropriate time. Today was no different.

I had a visit to make today. It was during those routine calls to a young family yesterday that I realized that I needed to seize the opportunity I had this evening to visit or it may be gone for maybe years. The last time I visited them was in 2016.

My colleague kept asking whom I was visiting and implied that I knew no one in this city outside my cousins and people in my congregation. I laughed. I know a lot of people here and I do not let them know I am here so that I may not put on myself the obligation to visit when I know I will have no time. In fact, I know lots of people everywhere. I do not try to know them, they just know me.

Perhaps the greatest asset I may have been given from somewhere above is the ability to have a simultaneous but distinct personal relationship with many people. It is really a cool thing, but trust me, it could snuff the life out of someone…something that on TV will have a “don’t try it at home” tag.

I got a call and loads of messages from a big friend in one faraway place that I mentally associate with a lot of ice. They are fine, and it has been some six months since they moved.

Then I was on an eternal call with Ezra. I really wonder why there is always something to talk about each time. Maybe we should host a radio talk show. I mean everyone at work are always asking why my calls seem eternal. I am even happy Ezra now uses Skype. He will be draining my pockets as I will buy recharge card to keep up with these ‘state of the congregation’ and ‘state of the city’ addresses.

I did visit that family and it was a lovely visit where they did not let me go. The little boy of just over a year was already talking and the little girl of just over 2 was sharp and bonded with me as if we had known here entire life. I met her when she was just a few months old.

I was almost escorted home and not seen off. It was amazing. Then there was much talk of old times, digging up funny memories. There was also talk about the future, something we all need to secure.

Today I also spoke at length with a course-mate and friend we know as Ayas. It may have been over a year since we last spoke and he nearly embarrassed me with his “to what do I owe this call?” question. It is I that owe him many things. He is fine though, his same enigmatic self.

Do you not forget something? I thought you will not ask me of the proverb at the beginning. It is about limits. I suppose I am a simple, complex person who bothers himself with trying to see possible situations and taking action before they happen.

I am only trying to get you scared, but trust me, being used to being given attention makes me quite knowledgeable in this. I fight off attention, I have done that all my life. It is always about identifying where the knee of the fowl is. I do not like unsolicited sweetness towards me, whether it is for favours or just likability. Be yourself.

SUN 05

“…that is for you…”-The Kids

At least I will not begin today talking about food, but I soon would. I nearly missed the bus this morning. I went 15 minutes late, you heard that right. It was such a pity.

The main person to blame is Ezra. I was about sleeping last night when he called. I went to bed early so that I could wake early but he called. His calls are always endless. I knew he did call to this morning, by that I meant past midnight. Fine, he left me urging me to sleep, but unlike the two previous nights, last night was cold and sleep I did…and woke up by 6.50am!

I mean, being helpless make me realize that I am human. I would have given up and see if my colleague could drop me off, but I did not. I hurried and when I arrived by 7:15am, I was not too late. I missed breakfast though.

So, I had plans to redeem myself and not be ‘owned’ today but that was not successful. It was Puregold, Evergreen, Kingsley, Chisom….I just gave up, they have just a little time with me and I should give up my freedoms for them. So my plan to sit with My Family here did not work out, but those ones too had plans. They had given up that me coming over for lunch would not work so they packed my lunch for me in a food flask all the way from home. It was touching. I had just little time, but on finding out that I have not had breakfast, the kids urged me to eat at least some of it before the program started. I was glad I did.

I had promised to discuss less about the program, but he morning session was interesting and the kids paid attention.

Now let me talk about the transportation. I had wanted to be dropped off today today because I knew a lot of interested person will join the congregation arrangement. I wanted to create space and maybe pick some people. Waking up late did not make this possible and some people did stand in the bus. The bus was this long buses seen in books, the ones they often write “BEDFORD” in front. I mean that type the use for school buses those days, but it was real fun.

The break came and there was almost a food problem, I had my lunch but I had to eat a little from the host. Then there was the photo outing and in it I had to buy a couple of things for them. I thought they would ask for ice cream and sweets, but they asked for Bible covers so that their Bibles should be like mine.

The afternoon session had the drama about Jonah. At first I wondered how that runaway prophet was an example of courage, but now I know better. At a time I thought I was watching a Pirate of the Caribbean that had no foul language. And again, we think we are smart in this age, but I just saw Jonah board a submarine that had sophisticated nanotechnology. A huge fish.

And the conclusion of the convention was a song that would normally make someone cry. A new song that all screamed along as if they knew it all their lives. I did not cry, because I was courageous.

And those kids, by typing and saying, they said a fist was for me, an act of encouragement. They lingered on…pictures, having my devices…as we cleaned the parking lot.

My colleague came to pick me up and My Family here had the last laugh because we dropped them off. Like a friend would say “in the end everyone was happy”.

SAT 04

“Most truly I say to you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate from the loaves and were satisfied
“-Matt 6:26

I had a packed day already even as yesterday ended. I just needed to be able to mentally arrange it, so I slept early last night, before midnight and woke up by 3am. At other times, I will not be able to sleep again, but this time around, I forced myself to and woke up by 6am. I knew I was almost late, but I worked out the whole thing that I got to where the bus was at exactly 7am, the time we were meant to meet. It did not matter that the bus came later the other time. I just like to keep to time and being on or near the dot is always thrilling.

Yesterday, during the break, Puregold tried to make me go over to their seat to have lunch and sit with them, but I declined because I had lunch already and did not need children to distract me. I do not know how she did it, but I saw my phone in her hands and my work ID pinned to her dress and displaying my photo. I knew what she wanted, she wanted to ‘blackmail’ me with unsolicited publicity and make me bow to her wish. One thing I have learnt about rearing children is balance. You should not readily bow to their wishes and at the same time you need to be flexible so I called her and struck a deal.

She wanted two things in return for the two things. A new small jotter to write during the convention as her old jotter was almost filled up, and money to make voluntary donations. I was touched. I was hoping to hear money to buy snacks or take pictures. It was only at the end of the program that she said we are all taking pictures on Sunday “but not with your phone”.

So, this morning, it was understandable when I looked the other way when I saw their vehicle parked near where we were to meet as we arrived. That is what debtors do, pretend not to see creditors. They kept calling but I did not turn.

My relationship with Puregold baffles me. We tend not to agree on anything, yet we get along. In fact, the little girl tends to do the opposite of everything she thinks I want done, but such may have been the impression of being the first person I walked with in preaching during my first sojourn to the Garden City for work. She was like a code that needed cracking. Generally, my kind of kids are said to be either ‘razor sharp’ or ‘calm and calculated’ but asking questions from the blue, they are said to be malleable, but Puregold is just Puregold. Evergreen fits the description better.

I know you are about asking why I am writing about food again. It is not about those lovely kids I mentioned, but let me write that text down again:

” 24 So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they boarded their boats and came to Ca·perʹna·um to look for Jesus.
25 When they found him across the sea, they said to him: “Rabbi, when did you get here?” 26 Jesus answered them: “Most truly I say to you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate from the loaves and were satisfied. 27 Work, not for the food that perishes, but for the food that remains for everlasting life…”

We had arrived this morning about the time we arrived yesterday, just as the music was about to start and I decided that I needed to avoid trouble and sit with those kids and their family. I will keep having this problem of being dragged at least until I get married, but marriage is no guarantee.

I dashed to the urinal first when I realized I was being followed. It was sad. Those that will understand will understand. If you do not, ask google. It is not a pleasant thing being followed to the urinal and back.

It was totally surprising to the kids that I just made up my mind to sit with them without them having to drag me and they really tried their best to be of good behaviors and pay attention. Sitting with them was one of the best decisions I made today. I learnt of lot of things that could build faith.

There was another family(but the father was not present) there with us, their cousins. While I was asking if the one closest to Puregold is qualified to preach, I was told they are not Witnesses but attend meetings. The story is, their father had to be begged so that they and the mum could attend the convention. That little 12 year-old or so started studying the Bible and attending meetings on her own and the mother and other kids joined.

Then there was another kid who asked a question based on what was discussed “who is an elder?” and Puregold redirected the question. Though I later answered the question during the break, I was surprise because she should know if she was among the family of their cousin.

She was not. She was Puregold’s classmate whom she invited and whose parent agreed to make her come just for today. This was then the first ever meeting of the Witnesses that Esther attended. I let Puregold know that I was proud and Esther that she was welcomed. The little girl was delighted and paid attention all through. She will never forget the mongoose. None of us will.

The boys were in my reprimand book today but I will keep that private. The kids however, sensing that I may run away for lunch elsewhere, pinned me down for lunch. It was eba and soup and no amount of protest could make me run away. In the end I was given a spoon. It was nice. It was my first time of eating swallow at the Assembly Hall.

I also used the break time to pay my debt and show Puregold how to donate on jw.org to the Swiss Account. I had to be careful since the amounts are in USD.

We were all excited when the baptismal candidates stood. there was someone in our congregation, Blessing!!

I have met a lot of people during this convention. I met someone from the times I spent in Enugu, a neighbor from Eket, one of the Ayangsons; a neighbor here, someone formerly in this Ph congregation and then this evening, someone from my growing up in Eket, from my home congregation, Godswill Charles!

How will tomorrow be? Well, I remember the picture debt, even one with Godswill Charles.

I also spoke with Gift about her experience related yesterday, how she courageously faced punishment at school. We had time for details and the kids tugged along, making people assume that they were mine.

The kids asked if I will sit with them tomorrow, I suggested I would not saying that they got distracted in the afternoon. It was quite hot and I really pitied even Puregold desperately trying to be of good behavior this afternoon so that I could reconsider. That little girl does not back down or show emotions, so those actions of hers were huge.

I do not know what tomorrow holds. Then there are those I am family with here, they were rightly complaining this evening that they are assuming I am not present at the convention. I know what that means and should make it up to them.

…abeg guy, do and come and marry. Make sure you live in a house of a hundred rooms because you already have a battalion! I really pity Mrs. Me.

FRI 03

“For the Kingdom of God does not mean eating and drinking…”-Rom 14:17

I do not hope to say more than two lines about work today, so just accept that it was fine and what was not done will be done next week.

It was the first day of the 2018 Regional Convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses today. I know that it is surprising you. It is the first “Be Courageous” convention weekend in Nigeria. It is so early that the summer conventions in the US and Europe are still ongoing. In fact, a friend is attending one in Cardiff stadium this weekend too. Well, since I will still talk about this when I attend mine next month in Eko, I will limit what I say about it.

As expected, it was a well-organized event and full of encouragement. It was also very colourful though I found the afternoon a bit hot. I took a picture of the environment and people at the end of today’s session and my left heart, after looking at the photograph said: this looks like the paradise you people preach about.

The Bible is an interesting book that ‘contains everything’. No matter how many times you read it, there is always something new. I was delighted when a portion I have recently read for my personal study was analysed. It was however another portion read during the dramatic Bible reading that made me laugh a bit. In about two or three consecutive verses, three terms and phrases that we think are modern were mentioned. They were

  • Shin guard: today, my friends that still play football know it too well. If I ask they, they would say Nike or Adidas invented it.
  • Token: Those that bank and do a lot of transfers know this.
  • Exemption from service: an exemption certificate has been causing controversy in Nigeria. Those in countries where there is forced conscription will know it too.

In the end, it was a lovely convention and eating ekpang nkukwo after years brought back memories of home before everyone left home in the name of growing up. It was however Puregold that I could not run away from. What have I done to that kid? Abeg let me come and do and go.

Why did I start today by writing about food? The Bible answers:

“Therefore, do not let the good you do be spoken of as bad.  For the Kingdom of God does not mean eating and drinking”-Rom 14:16,17

I hear that some religious groups attract young people by offering candies and food, so it is very common for young interested ones to adopt this mentality. Conventions offers the opportunity to associate and to experience an atmosphere that is uncommon, that is why many non-Witness parents allow their children to join Witnesses for their conventions.

Being used to studying the Bible, many young Witnesses easily pay attention to study sessions. I sampled the opinions of some of these young ones and I was thrilled at what they learnt despite their short attention span and possibility of being easily distracted. These young ones always sit with their parents.

Many young interested ones also listen, but some do not. These ones seek the ones that may have given them money for snacks the last time and demand money. Of course these are joyous occasions and it is easy to give, in fact people are prepared to give, but there is need for caution.

Imagine giving out just under 2 dollars(Aus.) at noon break and then guide the persons to a free lunch and they spend 80% of the time after the break outside, then 10% sleeping. Then at the end of the program, more food and then you are approached again: can you give us some more, we need something to drink? I am just asking you to imagine.

There was a lovely experience by a sister in the congregation here. For a year in her secondary school, she missed morning classes and perpetually cut grass because of her neutrality. It was sister Gift.

We were advised to go to bed early in order to be refreshed for tomorrow. Please let me…

THU 02

“…you are my role model”-Diamond E.

Today was a great day. It really was. I realized that it is not really events that make days, people do, if find time to have time for them.

Talking about time, I took note of what was written on a truck I saw on site yesterday. It read:”No Time For Love, Baby”

Mother whetted my appetite for these messages on lorries and trucks when she will relate some of them to us, the ones she saw as a kid. The messages included “No Food For Lazy Man”, “One With God is Majority”, etc. One can make an archive by writing what is written on these truck…but that most are in Hausa or Arabic.

Work went well and closed on time, but that was not really the juice of today. Yes, you expect me to talk about work all the time and I am telling you that much was done in so little a time. You know, if I keep a journal that I will tell you just about work all the time, you will be so bored. So let me sound like my mum: kpong mi! That is Efik for “leave me”. She will always say that to object our objection, especially to Ezra and myself and it will make us laugh.

Well, I have been waking up late these days and like one of the days to meet an empty but unlocked house. So my colleague had gone out early to buy items needed for work. There is something I am doing during this window that that we are given to work that many people would not, but it is an evidence that when I put when I put my heart into something, I see it out to the end.

My mind has been clogged these two weeks and I felt it lightening today like ice was gradually melting. These unclogging processes often unfreeze thoughts of people that were kept safe in my heart and I will be moved to contact them.

One of those feelings seemed different. It felt like a debt then I remembered. It was someone with an “A” name that now prefers “Diamond” as a name on social media. I call her my Counselor, having just completed her education in the field. No, let me not spice it up, I call her my Runaway Counselor. Great family consisting of the person responsible for my ever keeping journals and one of the few persons to have ever been called my non-biological son at any given time.

So, my Counselor was effective today, and she broke her “Nondisclosure” rule by analyzing the type of client I was. I mean she shocked me by describing me and it was not funny. Some of those things were mean things to say. I am willing to tell you them, but this Nondisclosure rule is hindering me.

I spoke with my sister and then two old friends. I also spoke with ‘miss Vivacious’ in Kwara camp. Typical her, she will finish your airtime by always wanting to give details.

I have two ‘doctors’ and I spoke with one today. I mean, simply because they are waiting for MBBS exams, you think they are not qualified? I get helpful suggestions from them for eating and sleeping disorders.

Then I spoke with ‘my mum’, I meant not Mother, but someone who calls me “my san”. I mean she speaks like oyibo and behaves like one. She called me Runaway Son. It was beautiful talking to her again after sometime. She studied the Bible with me and we share a passion for writing and the arts. She paints and it draws and all that.

If her name were to be written in Hebrew format, it will not have vowels and will be CLR.

Find out the real name by fixing vowels

WED 01

“The good thing about memories is that it makes you feel good about the things you love but can no longer do”-Me

So, this afternoon, Mrs. M sent me a cutout from a newspaper of Nov 24,2014. It was that of me with the then Manager of Nigerian Bottling Company, Marcel Martins. I was receiving prizes and about to embark on the week-long essay trip that the article was about. It brought back fond memories.

Maybe I will talk about this later, but today was a busy day. I think you may ask what I really did and someone would say “nothing”, but real work is often more in the head.

Well, unfortunately for you, you will not hear me say I closed late because we arrived early enough I had a dinner date in the evening…with a family. The kids have persuaded me for over a month now and I just had to oblige after making and breaking several half-promises.

I went beyond 6pm and had a swell time. It was the Bible quiz with the two older kids that was the crown of the fun and it made me stay on the meal for two hours. I ate like a French having lunch.

I want to be brief today, very brief. Let me whisper the last thing I have to say

 

 

…sleep.

JULY 2018

PERSONALITY OF THE MONTH

HAPPINESS UMOH: A SMILE THAT YOU CAN PERCEIVE

I will not waste time to tell you that she is one of my non-biological daughters and a keen follower of my ink. I keep writing for people like her, who will not give up asking. Hers was different as for more than a year, she took care of the tiny library at home and books were safe in her reign.

Happiness is actually family, not just to me but all of us. She has a trademark laughing-smile that you can feel even when you cannot see.

I will not discuss my ‘family matters’ in public, but if there is one person that worked and walked her way to the status, then she is that person, totally different from what is expected of her seemingly frail self.

She is presently working on her project as she is studying Electrical Engineering in a school I nearly attended, having gained admission earlier.

I am very proud of her and wish her success on her project.

TUE 31

“Nigerian politicians are in a movie industry called Polywood”-Victor Andikan Essien

So…even someone outside Nigeria is seeing this. In the past week, the wind of defecting from one political party to another, one impeachment saga and another, one police or EFCC arresting one person or another has been so strong that it could blow off the roof of this house. I mean, is it a movie industry?

I am no politician, and will never be, but I thought political stance used to be about ideology: left(socialist stance), right(liberal stance) or centre. It is always about democrats or republican; labour or conservatives…

In Nigeria, it is about jumping one danfo into another if you sense traffic, and going back into that other danfo if you feel the line will move faster. For those of you reading abroad that crossing over to Cotonou means forgetting what danfo is and speaking “wanna-ganna”, danfo is a type of commercial bus in Lagos.

I seem happy and chatty right? It is just ten pm and I am already talking to you. It does not mean that I came home early, it means that I came home earlier, and I am eating boiled shelled groundnuts…I meant groundnut with the canda…abeg I mean mmansang ikpok, abi mbansang ikpok.

It was boiled at home and my mum will be so proud. She likes us to eat fruits and all these little little mkpo uyong udua. Preparing it at home is a kudos, does it not mean that I have a lot of “home training”?

Did you chew your tongue trying to read the Ibibio? You see, even when I am Akwa-Igbo, I am biased towards using Igbo in my wring, I mean my fiction. It is because I was influenced by literature spiced with Igbo and there was hardly any in Ibibio or Efik and these languages were hardly taught in school.

See, you will be tired of stories today so better beg me to stop.

Yesterday, my bitter-sweet experience at the end was my best friend at work calling me to tell me that I will not come back to meet him as he is seeking other adventures. It was a good thing and a sad thing too. We were really pals and in the same office. So the last work with him was him practically giving me a civil engineering solution on this project over the phone. His name is Peter, the same one that mocks me for not being to Nigeria branch of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Edo, his state. The other friend in my office who says he is a Biafran says Peter is an Edomite. In his theory, Edo people are Edomites. He had visited there before. One very funny guy. I will go back to a dour office with serious faces. I will not forget my earpiece.

Despite my colleague going to waybill an equipment to Lagos early in the morning, we still reported to work early. I mean, I woke up and went all over the apartment to look for him before I called. When he left, I was dreaming. It is very rare for me to realize when awake that I dreamt. I mean it was a dream I could not wake up and leave.

There was this lady her husband wanted me to get a document from. I was to sign that I will be paid 250,000 Naira, but the woman was saying 230,000. I was contemplating if I should take it or lose everything and I kept saying I will not take it if she does not add something until I woke up. Annoying dream.

Today at work was interesting. A lot of work was done that is why we extended the time we closed, contrary to plan. And when the morning was fair and bright, I learnt of someone that was on site that could turn the day cloudy with questions about why we did the redesign the way we did, but it was a very unexpected easy ride with him.

Today, people kept saying I make a lot of calls. Of course I talked to someone I had not talked to in like a year or over. The person they called “your sister” when she was an intern because she was from my state(in diaspora), one boss-like lady called Charity. She should not be a teacher or kids will be crying each day. The conversation dragged into faith and she kept saying “you did not call to preach for me”. The other topic is what I will not tell you because you did not remind me as I asked you to.

Are you sleepy already? Are you not tired?

I laughed a lot this evening when I learnt of the “law of plants”. Someone handling the fitting work on site is one person that does many things. He is so composed and with a drive for accuracy. He has a lot of “home training” and can do a lot of things. In his house, he plants a lot of fruit trees and has nurtured some of them for the past two decades. It means he was a teen when he started. The thing is, those his fruit are always choice ones: coconut, udara, native pear, bush mango, avocado pear, mango….just name it.

When he talked about cutting down one of the best native pear we have tasted because it was encroaching on the roof of a neighbour, I suggested he trim the tree. He said it will take between a full year and two for the native pear to fruit again if trimmed. I asked if that was the rule with all fruit trees, he said no and started giving us the “law of plants”.

Outside laughing, I wished I had a pen and paper to write. Well, do you know that you do not need to heap sand on a plantain stem because the suckers will come up to the sand and grow on it without being rooted? Do you know that you have to cut only the dry leaves of plantain if not you are limiting the size of bunch and even the number of bunches by cutting fresh leaves?

Do you know that the delicacy of pineapple is cassava peel or palm fruit waste? Do you know that the rule of plantains apply to coconuts and that cutting the fronds delays yield and affects the quality too?

It was the talk about the leaf that when chewed, bullets cannot penetrate, one that when it touches you ‘you cannot be seen and you can walk twenty miles without feeling but you will not know the road to any road’ that nearly got me rolling. That is not all. There is one that when dropped on a dead snake, it resurrects…chei, story story…

What about the one that every other person seemed to argue: plants have a language and can talk. Let me come and be going mbok!

As I am about to drop this keyboard, Mother called. I proudly told her I was eating mmansang ikpok. I told her it was cooked at home and she was proud. I told you. She asked me if I cooked it so soft, I said no. Asked if it was a bit hard and with ok salt, if it was cooked with low flame and…I told you, I have “home training”.

Then she asked if I had eaten native pear recently. I told her I did yesterday. She said she hoped I did not make it too soft, and it wou;d have been perfect if there was roasted corn….there was not. At least mother is proud I have not been reduced to a “mama put” young man.

Sleep jor. 

 

MON 30

“There is a big difference between memories and memoir-ies”-Me

I do not know why people feel I play with words, I vehemently deny. Words play with me sometimes and end up messing my head…hold on, did I say “words play…”? That is sounding like “word play” and I love its sound.

I am trying to start today on a happy note because the moon came all smiling this eve, full moon that was large and the colour of pap that they pour liquid milk into. I did not even answer her. She thinks that as a girl she can do all she likes and come smiling as if nothing happened. She will need to be before I accept her apology. She made a mistake in thinking I am like “them”.

Today had a fine weather and I was not too bothered when I got a call from the client stating that we could work. In engineering or similar works, we call it having a “window” to work. It was unexpected but it took some time to get the team readjust schedules. In the end, we went at about the time we scheduled to work and it meant working until late.

I forgot my wallet at home today. It was strange because I am always remembering it. You know, from a very early age, we were taught how to be with some money when we are out of the house. The amount was said to be “at least what can pay for someone’s palm oil if you happen to pour it”. So today that I forgot my wallet, I stayed at a place.

I had taken along an EKOes journal and I did not have time to read it. I only flipped through a page or two and laughed. It inspired this:

 I hear that there is a huge difference between memories and memoir-ies.

One is like a bird perching on a tree that either flies away or stays.

The other is like a tree that lives as time flies into years

One is written in the clouds of the brain

The other is penned by the real or virtual pen

I was gasping for one today

When the other brought laughter of yesterday.

I did not initially intended to be a poem, but sometimes, these things come at a go and I gave it a go.

And go we did when 10pm approached.

It was as we were leaving that I saw the veiled moon. I was on call and quickly told the person “hold on, let me see if this is not this moon we have been looking for”. Even with her thick cloud-veil, I knew it was her. I just looked away. When we got near the house, I saw her clearly smiling. I just frowned and looked away.

There was something else that dropped on my heart between the two sights that made my heart sweet but very heavy. I will tell you later. You should get some sleep.

SUN 29

“Each day, I struggle with the inhibition of being misunderstood and the courage to be myself no matter what ”-Me, in EKOes vol 2 (27/03/17)

…late to rise…

If you are wondering where the lines above came from, then you did not talk to me yesterday. Read it up, will you?

I slept early yesterday and woke up late today. I mean, last night was wet and cold and almost everyone woke up late. That explains why the kingdom hall was almost empty when meetings was about to start, but I arrived early. It was still raining, slender drops that hardly got one soaked in a short time, yet would not stop.

Now, I came across the writing about inhibitions in my EKOes journal. the truth is, it is a very difficult thing to be me, so you should pity me for the fight of balancing a mixture of a little bit of myself and what reality should permit.

There was a lot to learn today at the kingdom hall. One was the lie that people always tell when they sin: “it is the Devil”, the same lie and shift of blame that our first parents told. The Devil cannot force us to sin, he can only try to influence us and entice us by wrong desires. He does not know what is on our minds.

I had a very interesting field service later. I meant preaching/teaching service. I must not explain these things every day to you.

In the evening I made calls to some friends in my Lagos congregation.

Yesterday, my very special friend Funmi got married and I was not there. She was a personality of the month in the EKOes series. Ezra and Kelvin attended and I do wish them a blissful marriage.

I hear you ask me about marriage. I told you already, we will talk tomorrow about it.

SAT 28

“The one who learns to hold on should know when to give up”-Me 

Today was a Wet-next-day. I did not mean Wednesday. I think for most of the South of Nigeria, today was a wet day. It was that kind of wetness that makes you sure that the next day will be wet too, so the name Wet-next-day.

It was an environmental sanitation day so I was to be at home in the morning. Living on the third floor here and with someone that cleans the compound, I stay indoors on these days wake up late, maybe wash too…the cloth I did not give a dry-cleaner.

Please do not remind me of the moon. Last night, she turned me to a teenager waiting for his date, a date that never turned up. Does she know how embarrassing that could be? Why must I always be unfortunate with these eclipses? Even this one that lasted two hours was elusive.

Well, I slept some more, maybe to get over the heartbreak from the moon. I heard myself saying in my dreams: why is she even proud, she does not even have any light of her own, just reflecting the sun.

Talking about days, how did they get their names? Well, let me try.

  • Sunday: that one is very simple. Sun is almost always shinning on this day and it shines on it more than any day.
  • Monday: It should really be called Moonday. After getting a day for the sun, they thought the next day should be for the moon. Later on, the name became adulterated and they called it Monday.
  • Tuesday: this one confused me, but it is the most straightforward. It was a day that people could have free tea so much so that they called it a Tea-use-day. A day that tea was used to foster friendships.
  • Wednesday: there are two possible reasons. The first is what I explained above. The day may have been so wet that the name was given as wet-next-day, or the person that gave it the name wanted to wed the next day and it was Wed-next-day.
  • Thursday: It was given because people go for outings and tours. It was Tours-day.
  • Friday: As it was the last work day of the week, families were always gathering to celebrate it and they fried a lot…beacon, beef, pork and all. It was called Fry-day.
  • Saturday: obviously a rest day. It was advised that the day be spent with family and often around home, so family trips were to be short picnics around the house. Many family heads preferred to sit at home and read or do other things. This mixture of sitting indoors and short family tours made it a Sat-tout-day.

Anyways, you may have a better explanation.

I was indoors the whole of today but I had something important to work on. It took most of my time and when I was through, I was drained but quite happy.

Did I mention movies to you. I saw just one today. I think a nomination for a movie award made me finally download it. It had at least two actors I do not really like movies they feature in. I did not regret getting it though because I had a good and clean laugh.

Okay, it is about something I should be interested in. I call it “popups”. I should be because I grew up “very nuclear”. The movie is called Excess Luggage and explains in a funny way that people run away from what they term negative attachments to their lives, but these popup when they do not expect. The beautiful thing was the positives drawn from an awkward situation.

How can I forget mentioning my hour-long phone conversation with my non-biological daughter. There was a month-long catching up to do and she is about writing exams. She called and insisted on using her units. I have stopped arguing with her on that because I am recognizing her “big girl” status, but we ended up sharing the credit-hour.

Then there was a call to my cousin in Calabar. I laughed on as I kept negating all her claims about school being tough. It was my way of making her feel less with humour, but they were facts she could not dispute.

Power is off for two hours. This is strange. Early to bed…

FRI 27

“The moon is a girl”-Me 

I read somewhere today that “the greatest gift that you can give to someone is your time” and I cannot agree more, after all, love is a product of time, attention and affection…according to me. Why then did I call the moon a girl?

When I was writing the second volume of my journal last year, I identified that one of my friends was a “moon watcher” and always asked of how the moon was in my area but I hardly paid attention. One day, I saw the moon so pale and slightly bloodied and I wondered what was wrong with her. It was as if she was tired of my not giving her attention, she was like a girl. So I wrote a lengthy apology to her, but really to those that my being busy may have made me to ignore.

Why am I talking about the moon today? Today was meant to be a MOONDAY, for we were to have the longest lunar eclipse of the 21st Century and a spectacular “blood moon” in display. I had this information for about a week and was excited, but there was caution in my excitement because I have a problem with eclipses.

The first eclipse I thought I would experience made me write a long poem as a kid. At every other time, there have been one excuse or the other as to why where I am will not experience a noticeable solar eclipse. I was tired to hear “you see, it was dark and cold as if rain wants to fall”. I thought the lunar eclipse will be  more generous, unlike the brother, she was meant to be seen as a Lady in Red for over two hours.

So, I did what I had to do today and went for work later. By what I had to do, it included doing something with good intentions and yet having bad results. Sometimes, I look at these instances as those breaks that make me think and remember that I am imperfect and full of flaws, but it hurts a lot if it did hurt others. I think that was what started waning my excitement, but I knew the glow will come if my Lady of the Skies glow in her golden or red gown as the case may be.

Though my mind was clouded with thoughts, the skies seemed clear and I was relieved because I had read “absence of rain clouds” being a criteria for seeing that shakara girl.

Let me ask you a question. How will you feel when just when you wanted the sky to still be clear, rain started falling. That is how I felt. Rain fell, even work had to stop. What have I done to eclipses?  We went home.

I should have been happy that there was no rainfall and I had the advantage of watching her from the third floor where I already knew the usual position of the moon, but I was not.

As I am writing, Ezra called to ask if I saw anything. I have gone everywhere to look for her, even in the direction of sunset but to no avail. The moon is a proud girl today. She has so many admirers in the world today and so I am relegated to the background. I have not even seen her shadow, I have seen nothing.

THU 26

“I do not seek the glory of men”-Jesus Christ 

I have hardly seen Jesus this upset, in words in particular. I know you are thinking of that time he made a whip and chased people all over the temple. Today he was talking to the pharisees and he was upset. They were angry when he called God “My Father”. I mean Jesus talked and  talked, one of his longest replies (Read John 5).

So, the above meant that I was able to attend meetings and on time. I had left for work early today and left work by 5pm. I left the team behind and I was worried the road may be clogged as it was in the morning. It was not.

Today was a hectic day that flew past like the wind. I had initially thought I would not go to work at all, then I thought I would go later and then realised that my mind was up for something totally different and it won.

There was something about that reply of Christ that impressed me. It was studied today at meetings. He was so bold, so fearless and spoke his mind. I do that often, but only when I ‘get it up to here'(placing his flat palm on his neck)

Talking about speaking, I want to ask you a question. Do I have a “sweet tongue”? Please just tell me.

WED 25

“You looked like a little princess”-Me, about Ivy 

I will not tell you her real name because this 5 year old does not like limelight, but she graduated last weekend. I meant from Nursery School. Her name starts with the first two letters and her 11 year old sister has a name I will call Hanny, of course the first three letters will help. Family friends? Affirmative.

I was sent her graduation pictures yesterday and I did love that red dress. She was practically a princess, a Lady in Red! And today, when she spoke with me over the phone, she had little to say but to thank me for what I do not know. She spoke in her usual slow pace as if she is counting her words. She is indeed a ‘woman of a few words’.

You see, I belong to the old generation. In my days one had only one graduation in a lifetime, but these days, one may as well graduate up to five times. I like how wearing the gown make young ones feel. In fact, there is even more development: Prom has arrived Nigeria. Mobil Pegasus school in my hometown did not have a graduation this year, they had a Prom.

When Ezra had his long skype call this afternoon, I was still at home and it was after-noon. It is really beginning to look like working on shifts.

Let me tell you something about Ezra. If I do not call him, maybe he will have a ‘phoneache’. The other day, since I did not speak with him on the phone for a day he called to ask: “What’s happening?”

I did go to work the same time I went yesterday and got back by 10.15pm. Yesterday it was mum that instinctively called when I just got back, today it is my sister. Well, I think I will promise you that IF I stay at work this late tomorrow, then I will introduce you to the Cici on board because she will call.

My main problem of this work ‘on shifts’ is not the sleeping like a log at night, it is the late dinners. We should work on that.

Should I not sleep?

Oh wait….did I tell you of the cover of a song Tobi Salami made…I played it in replay mode. That boy is just too good at what he does. The song was photograph by Ed Sheran.

…loving can hurt, loving can hurt sometimes…lalalalalalala…..sing along na

TUE 24

“It is a difficult thing to find the right balance between TOO LITTLE and TOO MUCH, but it will not keep me from trying”-Me

I still remember the first time I visited Jos, that was the first time I fell in love…with a city, of course. Sometimes this your mind wandering makes me uncomfortable, but is it not you again?

It was my second excursion trip from school and we were meant to spend a week on it. We had a Jos ex NYSC member waiting for us to arrive. We had driven all night and spent an extra 2 hours after missing our way. The trip was to last 23 hours and I did not close my eyes to sleep. On my shoulder was the head of one who regularly did, my school daughter! It was strange to still call her that because she was no longer in my school, and that the mum who was one of the main organizers of the trip and with us will shift the responsibility of shouldering a heavy head to me. “please, take this your troublesome daughter away, I am not ready for her burden” she told me.

We were all tried and worn out, and had stopped in the very early hours at Lafia because it was too dangerous to attempt the lonely mountain road then.

We drove into Plateau as the sun was rising, and as we got near Jos, I cannot forget how Riyom Sheltered Rocks looked. She was lovely and mentally have been my symbol of my first love. When I see her in a picture, my heart would quote Shakespeare: “There she stood when I first loved her”. I meant Jos.

What was remarkable about her was the balancing art of nature…small stones carrying big one, boulders sitting there for centuries in an unbelievable position and still standing. I have used this to represent people who know how to balance out the affairs of their lives and find the right amount of time and attention for each thing and person.

Determining right balance, the right amounts of time and attention is a delicate business, a very tough one. This will not scare me away from trying because trying erodes guilt off the mind. We often regret because we did not try the things that we had in mind when we wanted to and do not have the opportunities to try them anymore.

When Noah’s rain started this morning, I was not too scared because work was scheduled for afternoon, and I did attend to work when I ought to.

There is something about a pact between my body and resilience that is signed when I am under pressure and I do not like it. I can be stretched and do not feel it. I suppose that is what it means to be tough but please I am not liking it. Just yesterday I talked to you about not repeating being on site till 7.45pm, today it was getting close to 10pm, and there was my body doing as if nothing happened. Is this what it means to work on shifts?

I talked to Ezra and also my non-biological daughter Happiness about her school project. It was funny that what I mostly heard was the very loud voice of her roommate and whatever got her upset. It was so loud that it did not only drown Happiness’ voice, but it was as if she was on my side of the phone.

I asked her attention to be drawn.

“Who is it you are speaking with?” she asked.

“My father” was the reply. There rest was a mild drama wordy of me telling you, but I will not.

Mum called later, and I was glad I was at home when she did. At least the pity was less. I so love that selfless woman.

Movies? yeah. A touching one called Stolen Lives. I was glad I had remembered to call my daughter. I try to give my kids the right amount of time and attention. They need that to thrive lest the world and its bane steal their lives.

Let me sleep like a log.

MON 23

“I was proud, but now I am ‘prouder’…is that an English word?”-Me, in a conversation with Emem Udoekong

That conversation was towards the end of today but demands first attention because of the person involved. That young person is totally responsible for my keeping a dated Journal. I had vowed that as long as my journal habit does not stop, she will keep being mentioned, especially because of what is one of the best gifts I have ever received. Maybe I should nominate her for Personality of this month, where we can give further details. What do you think?

What was I talking to Emem about? Her admission process. She narrowly missed out last year despite scoring 277 in her UTME. It was sad, but this year, as she went for screening, she realised that her name was top of the list, she scored highest, leagues behind those others. I told her I will always remember that she is 001 in her department, a huge responsibility.

Prouder…that should be an English word right? It did not matter if it was as I often go out of regular conventions to make a point as far as it is understood. I believe that language is meant for comprehension and that it is constantly evolving and that I have every right to add new word as much as Harrison Ford or Donald Trump or Facebook.

You see, my first journal Emem made me write (Delta Diaries vol 1), which of course is stolen, was the first of 5 volumes documenting my NYSC experience. It was thus good to try to find out about  the NYSC status of a family friend in Lagos. She occurred in EKOes personality and could be described in one word: Vivacious. Learning she was due in camp tomorrow was good to hear but bad that I called to find out. She knew that she ‘did not try’ and spent most of the 20 minutes apologizing. Don’t mind us, she falls into the category of those whose legs I enjoy pulling. I wish her a nice stay in camp though. I am still upset. That is what she thinks so do not ever tell her that I am not.

I had spoken with Emem by 7.45pm and I was still at work. It had been a tiring day with work stopping for hours due to operations and resuming when they were closing for the day. It was really frustrating and my legs are aching, even now. I cannot do this tomorrow, I have to do something about it.

Oh…one of my troublesome friends got baptized yesterday. I will not name names so that you may not be tempted to gossip…sorry na…someone cannot play with you again? Anyways, I was so happy for her but warned of challenges ahead.

Another of my friends that was once an intern gave me the opportunity to introduce and explain a Bible study App to him. It was JW Library, the best App in the world! He was impressed and should download and enjoy.

Then my cousin, the one my best friend calls ‘Your Favorite Girl’ called with a request that I normally would run away from. It will really be pen-full and I am busy and tired and have a very thin time to work with.

Well, what about us? We have not talked movies in weeks. The long time we had before work made me see two good ones, Sunshine and the one that relly made me laugh: Ghana Must Go.

Let me sleep

SUN 22

“…A journal with a difference!!”-Precious Nwoba

Look at how your head is swelling, is it because Mrs. Nwoba said that about this our daily online chats? She will not be impressed if I tell her that we have been friends since 2012 and yet you have not told me your name. I will not ask you again.

Honestly, I had considered dropping this our daily online conversation. You still remember that I was pushed into this and I still love a good old book so that I can do the sketches. Also, I keep wondering when this will end and if it will not make the page too heavy…you sef, you no dey tire for gist?

Well, the past three reviews on the blog has mostly been about this daily log that I am almost upset that you are running away with the attention.

Talking about attention, I feel when someone starts trying to tell you the cloth you should wear for a particular thing, then you should be weary. Sometimes it is not about attention being an indication of affection, but learning do do a “soft landing” for emotions all one’s life is not an easy task, am I a crane?

I am refusing to give further comments on the above, but EKOes journal series witnessed worse things like an outright obsession and I have long learnt to run away from such. I am too mentally tired for that kind of headache.

Talking about headaches, engineering is one profession that gives one such. I spent a good number of hours trying to think out and research on something I saw as a mistake in design with an aim of coming up with a solution. No wonder why I easily forget these days: old age and thinking.

Sundays are always days I have a handful of things to deal with, and Sundays are often kid-full. Please do not ask me what it means, at least you understand. It is not as complex as this signpost of a church I saw while preaching:

You see, I always ask questions and I was surprise that people were seeing the writing on the signpost for the first time. Now, “shikina” is a pidgin word with Hausa origin meaning “that is all” so this poster could not be Hausa. Check out the religious English word and you will be surprise.

My elder brother called this morning and I was lending him business tips for something he is helping to start. It is funny. I am termed “the most non-business inclined” of my family and the only one that has not attempted any kind of business. My brother on the other hand has the most fantastic business ideas but is often not patient enough to execute to success point. He is like a business ‘sorcerer’. Come to think of it, I hear that Nollywood movies paint “native doctors” as those that make people rich, yet they cannot make themselves. I am sorry for the comparison, but my brother finally found his niche in consultancy and business development. Maybe I am discovering a “calling” in “business idea support”.

I had to hurry through the call so as not to be late for meetings. i meant Christian meetings. You know I don’t like it when you stop me to ask irrelevant questions but you still keep doing it.

Meetings were lovely. I am really considering going for the trip to Nigeria branch or Bethel and I am often ashamed to say that I have not been there(do not tell anyone). That place, I hear, is everything I stand for: faith, organization, sustainability, environmental conservation, volunteerism, and many more. My friend and colleague who does not share my beliefs even mocks me for not visiting there. He says it is the best place to be.

After meetings came the kids. I think Puregold has a way of relieving her excess energy on me by punching, pushing and shoving when I least expect. I hear some people display affection in strange ways and I wonder if this was her way…sometimes, the fear of that kid springing up surprises make me always conscious.

The kid-drama was not over. Benetia is a usual “leave me alone” 4-year old, despite telling her parents I am her friend. Every meeting, she will say she is not my “friend again” and the 6-year old and calmer Elliana will be her Aaron. My crime is always not sitting near enough at meetings so that she can use my iPad. We will still shake hands eventually…’Notice Me’ Benetia.

It was the eldest of them that today belonged to- Melody is his name and he is just 7. He wanted to walk with me during preaching and I asked him to join me and Trust. On every door, he said he wanted to talk, to preach. Well, at first I was reluctant and we were hardly met people at home. He insisted and when a gate opened a a towering young man literally twice his height stood, I said:

“my little brother insisted on talking to you, can he?”

I was stunned at the lad’s presentation and how he tied his conversation about God’s kingdom to the Bible portion he asked to be read. I was amazed.

Early in the evening, Ezra called. I told you, two days without our talking is like eternity. I pity ‘Dear Future Wives’. He was calling and asking “what is wrong, has it not been too long?”. Maybe he meant two-long, that is two days long. Well, his call enabled me speak with one of our Eko friends who moved to Ikorodu. Ezra visited him.

I also spoke with my cousin, and had another cousin come around so that we went together to visit a cousin near here and met her absence, though we saw yet another cousin in her place. Aha! I am just relating it the way it was. My Warri friends would say: as e dey hot!

SAT 21

“Come back nah or do u want us to pay a ransom”-Confidence (a young friend in Lagos)

The above quote totally took me by surprise. I have overstayed the time I promised to stay and Eko is rightly worried. When a business trip with a perceived rival is taking too long, you start fearing for your man, you start stopping the nagging and calling him “darling”. Lagos is beginning to fight back and it is making me smile. Do I not love attention?

I stayed indoors all day. I was tired from yesterday and sorry to miss preaching. Standing all day on site could make my legs ache and I hope to be out tomorrow.

I did some work on the computer for most of today and was glad to have Goodnews and Samuel from the congregation here visit. We talked about many things and I think I just got introduced to another writer.

You see, once when BBC suggested Nigeria no more has writers, I was upset. One out of every 100 Nigerian is a writer.

I spoke with the Surulere kids today. Lagos needs me back, but will I break her heart?

FRI 20

“Hope is like cold water, it keeps us sane”-Me

Well, well…hope keeps us sane. I never thought I will write that but it is so true. We all have problems and many times these stirs our emotions and leave us drained. We face this no matter who we are and how strong we pretend to be.

I am an emotionally strong person and if you are having this from me, then I know what i am talking about. Where can we find hope? In words of comfort in faith, in promises, in the Bible. Ah…the Bible! It is a great place to find hope and comfort. Have you read it today? It will be like taking in or pouring cold water when you are tired…if you meditate on what you read.

Today was a tired day. It did not really start as early as I wished. I was expecting some items from Lagos but when I went to pick them up, it had not yet arrived as at this morning. This stalled work and I had to wait till noon to be able to pick up the items.

Well, equally frustrating was work not starting properly until much later because of the operations by the client. It meant that we worked late(r) and it was a sacrifice. I knew I will be tired the next morning. Well, I work more with my mind, I do the thinking. For instance, without expecting it, we came across something in the design that will bring issues, not really in operations but a couple of people will talk. I asked for the manuals which were not delivered, and discussed that with the Head of Projects. It looked a stalemate then as I looked it through on site, an idea came in and I changed the design in a way that will make everyone happy.

Well, work we did and we came home late and tired.

Will you not let me sleep?

THU 19

“Happiness is like a butterfly, when you run after it it runs away; but when you are calm, it may perch on you”-Clara Inyang

Hi there, it was such a day today but absolutely not as stressful as yesterday. You know, that poem Butterfly, the Shakespearean Sonnet I wrote has got people talking. I did write a poem with structure for the first time and who else but an old friend will I borrow something from but Shakespeare himself. I made the poem as simple as it could be but why even my poet friends ask for meanings of some lines baffles me.

Whom/What was the poem dedicated to? Primarily the butterfly, but I think I stirred of controversy by saying that it was inspired “somebody/something unnamed”. I am telling you this because I am happy you already know who/what it is. Please keep it to yourself.

I did go to work early and got back early because there was something to do, but not too much. Some items expected from Lagos and they are not here yet.

It was good to be back home so that I could prepare well for meetings, but the rain had other ideas. It however stopped before meetings so that I totally enjoyed that spiritual banquet.

Will there be any Christian meeting without mentioning Evergreen and Puregold?

I have to tell you at this point that it is highly unlikely that I will be able to attend the wedding of one of my best friends in Lagos, Funmi. I spoke with her today, this evening. I am really sorry and she understands. He sister would not and I may have to attend that one’s wedding even from the moon when the time comes.

I stayed up late, something came up that chased the sleep away. I slept this night by tomorrow morning.

WED 18

“Love is patient and kind”-Me

I just realised that I have not been feeling hungry at lunchtime for some days now and it does not seem fair, does it mean that I am loving myself less? I really cannot explain where and when this habit started.

I talked to Mother and Father yesterday and they were okay.  Edikan called me too which would have been something very rare but she has been trying these days (by that I mean calling once in three months). I have used this time I am not in Lagos to talk to many people. Today I called the family of the kid that wet my sleeves with her tears and held on to me for an hour when I was leaving my previous Lagos congregation. Chidera.

Work was intensive today and I closed late, leaving by almost 7pm, but to our delight, the road was not clogged.

I put a poem I scribbled into typed document, you would see it in the poetry section. I hope it remains simple and does not wash itself in controversy. I am tired.

TUE 17

“A moving bicycle is better than a stagnant car”-Me

It was an intensive day at work and we wanted to avoid traffic as much as we can, fearing that there will be some. We closed on time and headed home. With less than a third of the journey gone, we became stuck in traffic, just stagnant.

We spent four hours instead of 40 minutes. I cannot talk now, I am tired. Good night.

MON 16

“A surprise is only pleasant if it is desired but unexpected”-Me

A lot of people say “I love surprises” but they do not sometimes know what they mean by that because if someone surprise them with a slap, they will not love it. I think people love pleasant surprises and I got one today. It was one of those surprises that one would say in Ibibio: if I had a gun I would have fired it.

I know, you have started thinking about what the surprise was. Your mind has wandered to wades of cash and a car. Must it be something physical? I got a call, that is it. You have to know how rare these calls are and also realize that it lasted for half an hour. It was a pleasant surprise.

Well, the project vehicle broke down over the weekend and it was still at the mechanics. It meant I went by public transportation and work started late because the workers miscalculated the time to be spent waiting for the meeting held by the client on Monday mornings to be over. Work however took an annoying and stressful turn that I forgot I skipped breakfast until like 1pm.

Well, it could not have ended better at the end, but then something spoilt it. For the first time in a long while, there was traffic jam along east-west(east-waste) road.

good night

SUN 15

“Everyone claims that his mother’s soup is the most delicious”-An Ibibio proverb

It has been a while since I saw mother, but I must say that that that Ibibio proverb is true in my case. Were I to be in Uyo last weekend, she would have been there. All  the same, I can boast that there are some ‘hybrid’ soups that Mother used to cook and I will argue that they were unique to us.

I was up early and prepared for meetings which was by 8am. I have talked a lot about Toroja and did not mention the niece that is really my little angel, DaraMfon. Everyone calls her “Angel” too and she is very pretty. The mother says she cries like I used to when I was a kid. I will not argue because I seem to have emptied the tears before I was a teenager. I almost do not cry.

I carried my cutie to and during part of the meetings. It was not an easy feat, this nursing a baby. Mothers try a lot to carry out the responsibility.

We went somewhere after meetings and I was shown the way to another nature spot which I could visit anytime when in Uyo.

I returned to the Garden City just in time for the world cup final. Crotia gave everything but France got the goals. It ended 4-2 to France. They are champions of the world!

SAT 14

“Love is more than just a feeling”-Me

After a hectic but an amazing yesterday, I wondered what today will be like. I knew I had a wedding to attend and a lunch/dinner to honour, but there were many other tiny details that were not fixed.

Well, my day started with Toroja and her alphabet and word classes. I hear that a kind that tries to teach others what she had learnt is a smart kid. Toroja is, so she complied with a few rules and so she deserved to be taken out to the wedding that morning as her mother, my sister-in-law attended too. My brother did not, so I played father for some hours. I was aware that a few people will mistake me for my brother and I always like to relish in that mistake. You know I am already a non-biological father to four grown daughters, but how come you never told me that being a father to a toddler really fits me? I should think about it seriously.

I took pictures on my phone with Toroja, and I could only imagine where she got the funny styles from. With her will, she reminds me of Euodia, my second cousin.

We went for the wedding in the beautiful Kingdom Hall and there was a hint of organization written all over…and boy! the suit and tie was fine. Aniekan, one of my best friends, or my best man was the Best Man. He was dashing.

My niece and in-law left after the funny but practical marriage discourse, but they left only after we took some more pictures. Also, there were flower beds with sunflowers at the hall and I was fortunate to use my phone and take lovely shots, some with the bee and butterfly pollinating.

I went to the reception venue early enough  and it was well-decorated,  but it was the fantastic music that stuck to to my heart. I call it “kingdom jamz”. The wedding was very organized and events took place seamlessly. It did not go on for endless times too. It was brief.

I met a couple of people there, but when I saw my auntie, I was ashamed. I have made several promises but not been able to keep any because the family does not need a dash in visit but one I would stay over. I have not seen her kids for sometime too and they were grown. I think it  has been over 5 years. One did not recognize me again (I cannot blame the boy of 9) while the other did. When they recalled, I could not go until I made a promise to visit, I have to keep it this time as kids are involved.

My auntie nearly declined greeting me in public. In fact, anytime I am in Uyo, I feel guilty, even when I stay for a second. If I call her from Lagos to promise, she will tell me that she will only believe when she sees us. I am so sorry and promise to make it up. Do remind me.

I left the wedding for a lunch/dinner appointment with the Nwobas. I had promised that for over two years and just had the opportunity. Mrs.(or sister) Nwoba has been a strong believer in my pen abilities for a long time. She was the personality of one month last year and was described as a “Glam-mom”. Oh…her cute baby girl  looked like a Cossons Baby of the Year baby…beauty, health and weight.

It was wine and controlled dine, me not really being a food person, but that soup was great and I had my homemade pastry packed for me to take home.

I stopped by to see another great friend, Hanson who stays on the same street as the Nwobas. There Tboy met me up and I was certain it was too late to see my non-biological daughter. It was one of those almost nonexistent Uyo trips that I did not see her. She made excuses for me.

In the end, even when England lost 2-0 to Belgium, it was an amazing day.

FRI 13

“Love is a product of time, affection and attention”-Me

“I love you” is a used phrase and some avoid it due to the abuse. Now, love is not just a personal thing but a quality people should constantly display. I once came across a phrase “those who love are lovable” and I could not agree more. A loving person does not love just one person that loves him back, he is just as the word is…loving and a lot of people love him back. That is unselfish.

Why am I talking about this? Well, I have seen a lot of people display love towards me and I must say that being loved invokes an amazing feeling. Now though, this feeling that we have between us, is it “love or something like it”? I really want to know because I give to you a bit of my time, my attention and my affecting. Writing out these things, talking to you each day is such a task that requires efforts.

Yesterday was hectic and clumsy and I really wanted to clear my head. I was glad that I had planned ahead of this week and opted to go to Uyo for the weekend where I will have a lunch, a dinner and attend a wedding. It meant real calculations and proper planning, but there were too many elements of uncertainty that I would be racing against. I knew I may not meet it up the way I wanted, but I welcomed the challenge.

I was planning to meet my Personalities of the Month for the past three months in this single trip and I believed I could. So I was ready to travel even from the house, knowing I will have to leave from site.

Work did not start yesterday mostly because the person that had to start up did not show up and his lines were switched off. I managed the day as we had meetings all through. Today started with the same pattern of lines being off and I was rightly worried. Work started 2 hours after it was meant to and I was really worried because it will impact on my lunch meeting all the way in Uyo.

I paid attention to work though and then very heavy rain disrupted it by noon. It was both a blessing and a curse. With the whole place flooded, then work could not go on as it involved welding. But the heavy rains would make public transportation slow and difficult.

Well, my colleague eventually dropped me off at the motor park. We were told that two passengers were left. It was first strange that the rain did not yet get to that area. When the “two” passengers arrived, I was surprise that the vehicle was not still filled up and the rain just started in that area too. I could not risk keeping a young person waiting for hours so I had to pay for the extra seat and move to the front so that we may leave. When the driver got behind the wheel, I was concerned, he appeared sloppy.

He was sloppy and looked inexperience. The road was dual carriage and wide and he was crawling below 80km/hr. I kept glancing at the clock on the phone to urge him on, but to no avail. Then there were the police roadblock.

As he approached each of them, he will slow down to a crawling pace even a distance from it. Then he will be told to clear and open the booth. The roadblocks were only a few hundred metres apart and they were so many. At each of them, he will pay 100 naira as every commercial driver would, but he was not prepared and looking for change wasted our time further.

Then there was a checkpoint that the policeman did not stop us initially, but had to when a passenger was talking on the phone. In Nigeria, there is an unwritten rule that one does not speak on the phone while there, it makes them feel insulted. We wasted time there too but the man was forgiven and the driver still paid the 100 niara “to drink water” levy. The man again was not with change and the policeman had to pull it off the bucket where they put the compulsory tax.

Well, in Akwa Ibom, there were only two checkpoints at the entrance and money was obtained in just one, the one close to Rivers. I am not implying anything, but at least we passed through the Ogoni road safely.

Heavy rain was falling intermittently, as if Nature was gambling. We got to one place where someone was stopping. It was raining. From my last travel, I remember that there is a small park they now go to stop, but the driver stopping on the road confirmed my fears that he was a novice, at least in plying that route commercially.

As we moved, he remembered that he had forgotten to give the person his 200 Naira change. I knew he had the thought of going back but I had no such luxury of time. Someone else at the back seat said the guy forgot his loaf of bread too.

It was still raining when we got near Abak and there was another drama when a woman in the back seat started vomiting. We had to stop again. I think she was among the people I hear vomit when they travel in a vehicle over a long distance. I did not complain about the waste of time, I felt for her.

When we got to Abak, the lady at the back seat said she wanted to go to Ikot Ekpene and paid for it. She obviously had not traveled for some time because those going there stop at Abak park and pay their way there. She was not willing to listen and the driver did not even know the Abak park, so he cleared and wanted to pay a bikeman to take the lady to Ikot Ekpene which was off the route but not far off. The lady said she wanted to be taken there in a vehicle. I was still in the front seat with my seatbelt fastened when someone else entered the vehicle with the key and drove off. At first I thought he was showing the driver the way to Abak park, but the driver was nowhere to be found. I asked what is going on, but the other passenger said I should be calm, he had been down with the driver when I was still in the vehicle. Another though entered my mind: the vehicle has been seized for making an illegal stop…and the driver was so  naive to hand the keys.

We were driven to Abak park and the vehicle was parked. I asked what is going on and the man asked me to calm down again. I told him I was over an hour late for an appointment and did not pay for the extra seat for fun, so I will not calm down. I was willing to forgo my change so I opened the booth and took out my bag. That was when the driver and his tyres were being deflated as he made a lame call while he was accused of picking up passengers on the road. Whatever happened to Jesus’ instruction to settle on the road before he is taken to the park(in this context)…I got my change, entered a taxi to Uyo and left them behind.

I had to attempt getting a laptop for my colleague from her sister, but she had forgotten the charger at home. I chattered a keke to the house and where I was meant to meet my Personality of the Month of May, Mabel Solomon. I knew that the lack of communication would have made the agreed time not feasible and I hoped that this meeting with My Lawyer and her “Secretary” still held because I may not have another time to fix it in this short trip.

When the keke man asked if I am sure I will not waste time, I gave him an advance saying that he was not meant to trust me, especially as he will not see the compound I entered. He said he trusted me. I did not waste time and I did pay him well. In fact, I paid him the first price he mentioned, I am too used to the Lagos taxi system to start bargaining what I considered cheap prices.

Well, the lunch was actually a dinner and technically, My Lawyer paid for it. When I told you she is “called to Bar'”, you thought her too young. We talked about a lot of things, from school and exams to how difficult it is to be a Witness of Jehovah in school. I am very proud of her. I must also thank her Secretary MerCee for facilitating the meeting. At least she was a “respectful observer” for most of the time.

I went to get the laptop or its components thereof in  Oron road, and that is one road in Uyo that has a Lagos feel. There is annoying traffic in it. I did get it though and got home safely, it was not too late to start a class with Toroja as my teacher: see…letter K…letter W…

My dad ended in beauty and lots of love. It was worth all the effort.

THU 12

“Patience is a virtue”-A popular saying

I am not denying it, in fact, I am writing this under duress. I was 17 minutes late for Christian meetings tonight even when I was dropped off. Puregold said I should document it and that I should add that it shows I have become unserious, but I will not add it, at least you know better.

I must say that I struggled to pay attention at meetings today because I was so tired. I was so busy that I had no time to have lunch and did not feel hungry. It is a strange thing to say in a day that no work was done but much talk. It was meetings and discussions and arguments about the proposed work. I did not know talking could take that long and standing compounded it.

Heavy rain fell when we were about to leave by 4.45pm, but we were still discussing when the staff bus left the Terminal Engineer behind. He had to join us and waiting for him and hurrying him took 45 minutes.

Meetings were okay and I did meet Donia again. That is one bride-to-be in the congregation downstairs that is opting for a very simple traditional wedding with a few attendees. I like the concept.

We will talk later. Tomorrow is a longer day and I want it to be devoid of the disappointments of today. I am too tired to continue. Sleep calls before its time. Good night.

 

WED 11

“There are times that you can do nothing about a situation that just watch”-Me

Today I broke a promise and sadly so, but it was a promise that  was made this morning after the earlier arrangement was scuttled at the last minute, so you will not put all the blame on me. You see, I know why I like being in control of situations I am responsible for, I was not in total control of this one.

I was so stressed today as we went around to buy materials. Oh my God! The price for steel is so high that I felt like running away. We could only buy a few items in the steel village and I kept wondering what we will do next. I had a colleague too that had an appointment for an inspection that morning and we could not go there and at the same time go to my site. So without all the items, it was better no to miss the inspection so we drove him down. We had to wait for two hours for the break in that plant to be over before we gained access. It was then that I realised that the appointment I had on my site was not feasible.

To cap off the whole thing, my phone started misbehaving this morning, it was “hanging” in addition to the screen problem. Messages were not going….then I forgot it inside the vehicle outside the plant.

Well, I was able to reschedule the meeting and source for the additional materials at the end of the day, it took just a bold decision and now that part is almost concluded.

Oh…the match. It was the first world cup I did not support England. Their “noise” was too much and they talked about football “coming home” since they owned the sports. It was not too good from my perspective since it put a lot of pressure on a young, determined team. They played well but lost to an efficient Croatian side after extra time. 2-1 was the scores and I could not watch the lads cry. I felt for them. They are going home…after the third place match though.

Let me get some rest. There is a long tomorrow ahead.

TUE 10

“Anything that has weight and occupies space matters”-rewriting a definition

I woke up this morning a bit confused. I saw the pressure mounting but I knew that it will definitely be a slow start, no to the day, but to the project. It is always like that when any project is stopped and restarted and I always try to avoid the pressure. Often, I get to handle it because I could not control the delays.

Perhaps I make too much sacrifices and I do not know how to stop, perhaps I remain too calm and wonder why others panic so much…I do not know. I will pull through though, easily. Something also tells me that I will pull out soon.

I really will have to apologise ahead of time that this will be a period that I talk to you less. It is not you, but I have to get these things off my head as soon as I can.

Well, I still had time to see France beat Belgium. The French team always find a way to win in this world cup.

There is a good news. All of the boys and their teacher trapped in the cave in Thailand have been rescued. Let me put my head to rest.

MON 9

“The pains of waiting are gone when the desired is achieved”-Me

I did not want to tell you this last night, but I did receive the equipment we have been waiting for, for months. I was meant to be happy, but I had mixed emotions. Already I am outside my targeted time of completion and in total, the metre came over two months from the time we expected it.

Then the method it arrived was unacceptable. I do not work like that…being at home and enjoying a boring evening and there is a ring of the bell: we are from the office in Lagos and we are here with the items. There were a lot of “what if” loose ends and a simple message across would have tied the loose ends.

Well, I had them spend the night in the lodge, it was more convenient and I ensured the items were secured.

This morning, there was another surprise, the Store personnel had come over from Lagos on a short break and used the opportunity to help supply the items on site.

I had a very busy day afterwards, mostly indoors and mostly doing a research which I completed at night.

The days ahead kept my mind busy, I am under a lot of pressure…mark my words.

SUN 8

“You say you have four non-biological daughters, where is your non-biological wife?”- Evergreen (Ezinne) Ikokwu

Today was a cocktail day, a day with a mixture of emotions that were totally unexpected, a day that stretched my mind that has rather been relaxed for so long a time.

I forgot to mention that yesterday I got another set of critical reviews from one of the numerous critical-minded friends that I have, and I have to leave the changes to the professionals I want to soon engage. True, I do not know how she sees these things, how they see these things because all the reviews I have gotten totally makes sense. She liked this page though, so I can fan myself.

Yesterday too, I spoke with my best friend from that same Far Far Away that you know. You keep asking me why I am always on the phone so long with some people like him and my brother Ezra. Well, with him, we normally have a “State of the Nation” or “State of the World” address, while with Ezra is it always either of “State of the Congregation”, “State of the Home” or “State of the City” address.

We talked about many things and unemployment in Nigeria was top of the charts. It is saddening and years are passing by. It is something that can really cause depression. We also talked about the persistently hot Western summer…oh, I need to call someone.

I had called him after being on call to one of my best friends and thinking of a trip to Uyo next weekend. Then I called my cousin-sister-friend that some call my Favourite Girl, and then my cousins in Eko…Saturdays are often for calls.

Why am I telling you all of this today? I forgot to yesterday. You see, I have been pretty forgetful these days and today capped it up.

I woke up early to a beautiful day, read my text and prepared for meetings pretty well and on time. It was breakfast that tried to mess my head. I did not know if I should go back to the one-egg-every-morning Lagos habit that Ezra religiously maintains. There, we boil our egg for 15 minutes and I wondered if I had the luxury of that time and time was slipping away. When I was out of the bathroom, it was already the threshold time that I leave the house for the Kingdom Hall. I knew I have lost ten minutes and had to hurry.

I saw the effect of the lost time in the keke when I realised that I was wearing two different cufflinks. I laughed to myself and refused to repeatedly look at them. That is the trick, when you have a stain on your cloth or are wearing something wrongly and cannot change it, do not look at it, few people will notice or none. No one saw my cufflinks…one blue and gold, the other black and silver.

Ezinne asked me to sit with them again today, but I declined, they can distract during meetings. I wanted to sit with Goodnews Kufre and I did, he has a lovely handwriting and is one great and promising teenager. Evergreen did not give up though, she wanted to sit with us, but I had other plans. Her condition for having her wishes granted was attempting the assignment I gave her a week ago, she had attempted it. I must say that she was amazing today, paid attention all through and made a comment.

When leaving for preaching, I forgot my umbrella at the hall. Puregold picked it up and I was notified on time, but she refused to give it to me despite my pleadings. Thankfully, I walked with someone who had an umbrella because the sun was high. Is it really old age that is making me forgetful?

Well, you know the preaching work is similar to the work of a fireman trying to rescue people from a burning house and most people are reluctant. Talking about rescue, there is something in the news for the past week. Those boys in Thailand trapped in a cave. A diver lost his life trying to give the group supplies, but the rescue operation started and one of them is on the other side. It is a risky, extensive and tasking mission, this rescue mission. Imagine that a boy is being rescued and as he swims along with a diver, he turns his back and heads back to the cave where he faces depletion of oxygen and possible death. It will be so discouraging to the diver. I had a similar feeling to that of the diver this afternoon during a supposed Bible Study. It was a shock what a snare the fear of man can actually be, but then, there was nothing to dwell on, Move on.

One thing with life is that, for every sadness, there is often an ‘equal and opposite joy’ and joy is always stronger. How about the joy of learning that the faith of someone else became rooted due to one tiny thing you said?

About the quote above, I met my match today in Ezinne. My claim of having non-biological daughters have perplexed her and there is no meeting day that she does not try to know more about them. Then today, she popped up the question of my “non-biological wife”. I could never imagine something like that and she was sincere. I just kept laughing and told her I will take a long time to finally answer her.

Meetings were very fine, especially the Watchtower study on spiritual goals. I liked it when kids expressed themselves from their heart. Caleb and Rachael met me afterwards to say what hey commented on was no fluke. The former wants to be a full-time evangelizer while the later wants to serve in Bethel. Bethel means House of God.

I am tired of typing and it is still early. Let me either read something or watch something. Tomorrow seems to be lined up with activity. See you then.

SAT 7

“Life is too complex, the more you live, the more you realize that you cannot solve its problems, so you just do what you can and stop bothering yourself for what you cannot.”- Ezra Samuel

I cannot imagine that I have not totally recovered from the journey of two days ago. The bad roads must have really shocked me because I am one person that seem to be built from trips, they hardly stress me. Maybe I should add bad roads in my medical records as an allergy, putting it with my known allergy of septrine.

Today did not help matters though, it was a dull, lazy day with light showers in the morning but a gloomy countenance all day. It was as if the cloud had a quarrel with the sun and vowed that it will not get its glory today.

I was indoors all through. There is a research I am doing for one of my brothers and it has really kept me busy and on the computer. I took a break to watch the England-Sweden match and even when England won 2-0, it was not interesting. Russia vs Croatia was, and it was sad that Russia bravely bowed out on penalties. Though the host, they came to the tournament as the lowest ranked team but will go out as one of the best teams of the tournament.

Well, let me bow out of this page as one of the persons that ‘looks for your trouble’.

FRI 6

“When the burdens you bear for others become a load, leave it for them”-Me

I will call today Expectant Friday. I woke up still feeling the pains of the journey of yesterday, but that was not the main thing on my mind. I needed to know if I am taking a trip to Eko tomorrow or not. I had a training slated for Monday to Wednesday next week and it was important for me and the company.

It was the possibility of it being rescheduled that necessitated my hanging on for communication. I did get a call from the office, but it was for something else. It took the clock up until almost close of business for it to allow the news to be told me. Cici Eko has to wait, I was going nowhere. The training had been rescheduled again.

What kept me busy? I cooked. As you could recall, I hardly cooked when I first arrive here this year. I had a very big problem with taming the flames of the cooker. It was always very annoying, even when boiling water for tea. Well, I learnt to tame that ‘shrew’, so, today, I cooked. Do not ask me what it was because I will not share it with you today, maybe tomorrow.

I went to see a friend too, she will rightly say that I am her brother, even her husband gives me that tag. Honestly, I have known very few people as troublesome and funny. She is someone that puts you on the spot always. She bears the name of a flower that has loveliness and thorns at the same time.

So…another casualty of this strange world cup is Brazil. They played beautifully, but Belgium defeated them 2-1 to set up a meeting with France who beat Uruguay 2-0.

Finally, the good news (for me)…the long-expected equipment has arrived Lagos!!!!!!!

THU 5

“The beauty of a makeup is in the eyes”- a Bride-to-be

Where did I stop yesterday? There were so many things happening in too little time that I got both mentally and physically tired.

I was so shocked at the state of the expressway that I kept wondering if ever this country will be fixed to at least the basic status. So I came off the funny bus that yesterday and walked up to get a tricycle to my cousin’s office which I knew was not that far off. It then started to rain and as the keke moved, I realized that the road in the town itself which was somewhat fixed the last time I was there was in a sorry state. I was so pissed that I was taken beyond the office and I only realized it when we had covered a substantial distance. I had to stop, get another keke and start coming back to where the office was.

My cousin was happy to see me, she always is…after all, she will look for every opportunity to display me like a trophy and make people ask if I were her husband. It is something she always does.

Well, I had my pre-trip demands, and lunch was at the middle of it. I am not a food person, but I treasure opportunities to eat out. This time around, I did not like the food.

We waited up for someone and went together to get something in another part of town. I was busy asking if we will need to hire a taxi or go with a keke when they kept laughing and looking out for a “strong bike”. I was tired of waiting for it, but the guy assured me that he will know one when he sees it. The town seem to be a close-knit place and the bike he finally chose for both of us (my cousin being on another) had a rider that simply asked: shey na house you dey go?

I really doubted his choice. The man was barefooted with dirt on his feet. He had wounds on his body indicating a recent accident. I was reluctant to climb up but I was urged on. When I climbed, I could smell a bit of alcohol, my heart started beating fast.

It was not the rider, perhaps he was the best for such trip, but I had one of the most horrible bike journeys in my life. As we went from one pond on the road to the other, and the man used his leg as a rudder to pull us through, I gripped the frame of the bike as if my life depended on it, and wondered what would happen if we fall into the dirty water. I had memories of a similar journey I had in Aba some three years ago, en-route Ebonyi for a burial.

I realised that one of the things that make me scared is a terrible journey on a bad road, on a bike. It melts the toughness out of me, so much so that I asked the guy: please, are we passing through here on our way back? If the answer was “yes”, I would have asked to be taken back.

Well, the day culminated with a night out with net-defying mosquitoes, which unlike the “dump” ones in Eko were pretty talkative. I may have slept by 3am.

Today started well. I usually have a problem with food when I visit here, they turn the house to a fattening room and I resist it while they complain. There is always too much ado about food.

I was pressured into wearing a cloth I wanted to change because my cousin was planning to wear the same thing. She practically begged me to and when I conceded, it looked like a couple about to take pre-wedding photos. It was the same colour, up and down, and really, the clothes were lovely.

I went to the office with her, then the bank, then to see a friend who was my friend too but whom I have not met since my last time here.

She now runs a makeup studio and I was privileged to witness a makeup session from the start and ask questions. It was more like artistic painting and involves so much work and detail. The bride-to-be who was made up also contributed. It was really fun, but I had to go sooner because today was Christian meetings.

My cousin had work in town so we endured another perilous journey together along the express to the garden city. Well, I was able to squeeze off a pair of lovely glasses from her. It is always fun to have an older sibling or cousin around, they do your bidding.

Meetings were fun, but I was so tired after the journeys of these two days.

I had a long phone call with Ezra till tomorrow morning.

WED 4

“The lion that stays too long with the sheep begin to behave like a sheep”- Anonymous

I should apologise that this is the second time I am writing this. I lost the first one when the computer suddenly went off and indicated battery error. I had typed directly to the blog page and doubt if what I am now typing will be half as interesting. I am sorry.

I was bored today, tired of the house-a-rest and the uncertainty surrounding the equipment we were expecting. I knew that even if it arrived Lagos yesterday as stated, it could take two days or more to clear it and we may not even receive it by weekend. I decided to clear my head by visiting my cousins in the suburbs of the Garden City, the side that is towards Aba. I have not been there in almost three years, partly because I know that the expressway leading to it, the same one that stretches the entire length of this city, is always congested towards that end. It is towards Aba, so the bad road disease of Aba is communicable and spread to that axis.

Having time, I decided to visit all the same, but the fear of an Aba-like place dragged my feet and I did not leave until just after noon (not really the same as afternoon). I have to explain something before you think I was idling around. I had laundry that I did not want to give the drycleaner, so I did them myself. Then I had a haircut and packed. Such was my busyness (not business) that I had breakfast by noon.

My colleague was to drop me off someway (not really somewhere) and he had to turn back because of traffic. It was easy for the commercial tricycles (keke) to manoeuvre and I went with one. It was when I boarded a bus to that mini-Aba that the real action of today started.

I must mention that the commercial buses in Port Harcourt are small, they make me miss the Lagos danfo. People are literally squeezed into those buses and I keep wondering why they are used. I hate those buses, and I avoid them as much as I can. Thankfully, there are taxis for journeys within the city, but sadly there are no taxis going to that place, you will soon know why.

The drama of the vehicle started almost as soon as I entered. We had barely moved when agberos held it and wasted our 5 minutes arguing about the amount of “loading money” to be paid. In Lagos, the agberos would have removed the mirror or door or something from the boot because the bus will not initially wait…the conductor would have been exchanging blows with one of them.

Then as soon as that was settled, we moved to the next bus stop, Oimi (you should know I meant Oil Mill, but no one will understand you if you call it by its real English pronunciation). At Oimi, a lady at the back seat where I was alighted, and was a real struggle to make her come down as she sat by the window to the left. As she came down, the man beside me readjusted to her position in that crammed bus, and in doing so, the glass just shattered. I could not scientifically explain what happened, but the quarrel and talks about it lasted the entire journey and caused several delays.

“all of una wey dey go [the area], una get bad luck. Una go carry innocent face but wicked hear. Now tell me wetin I go do for my glass na?”

As the bad roads started surfacing along the Aba-PH expressway, the glass conflict changed into The Change Conflict. The conductor refused to give the guy beside me his balance, saying that he was responsible for all the commotion in the bus as a witch. It was funny and we took it as a joke until the man got to his destination and the conductor still refused balancing him 400 Naira. The driver parked the vehicle, and while we thought he was going to settle the issue, he poured petrol where there was water:

“I don dey observe you since, you be white ‘winch’….”

It was such a scene that it took th standing up of a policeman on a checkpoint to make them give him his balance… and then a rough ride started.

There were big ponds at the middle of the road and the road was indescribable, there were a lot of spoilt vehicles and people making money off towing and pushing vehicles.

At some point, I felt I was on the Dakar Rally and wondered if the event will be brought back to Nigeria, and wanted to give out the bad road for it.

Let us talk about this more tomorrow.

TUE 3

“Sometimes you run, sometimes you stand up to face your fears”-Me

I know that you think I have not fought before, but you are very wrong, we should all be fighters, at least fighting for our faith and our lives.

Why do you people think I am not capable of getting angry? Why do you say I cannot get upset? Well, let me tell you something about my fighting. I fought once in secondary school, that should have been JSS2.

I know you are ready to listen, but as you rightly guessed, I was not a kid brought up to fight with people. There was so much expectation from the society that I cannot afford to even if I wanted to, and funny still, I did not have that demeanor. I grew up with nothing interesting me to give up my pride for, always listening and always trying to solve problems. I was more of a mediator than a fighter.

Again, I unfortunately fell into the category of the top class people, everyone expected me to be an example, to behave well, so the society would frown at me doing some things that were normal to others. I was not pressured by the society, but I was realize now that my natural behaviors seem to suit what people expected of me.

Me fighting in school would have made an ‘international headline’, but that one time, it did not even make it to the ‘street newspaper’.

There was this unruly boy, smallish and playful(as if I was big) and very troublesome. I was on top of the educational food chain and he was near the bottom. That term, he started targeting me. I could not know what his problem with me was, but he did everything to provoke me. He tried to pick up a fight but I kept avoiding him. I did everything, I technically ran and hid. He was living near my house somehow, but we only had interaction in school.

You may think I was running away because I was powerless, but that is not true. Because I did not fight and did not do a lot of strenuous work, I had a lot of potential energy. I did not want to dent my image and I knew it was wrong to fight.

I managed to avoid this boy for an entire term. I did not report him either because there was no outright confrontation as I was always with people who though moved along with me often to be in my company, were capable of protecting me. I avoided him until after exams and just a few days to school closing for the term.

One day, I may have been in a teacher’s office marking exam scripts when school closed, so I went to the class to get my bag when he stuck. He gave me no chance and I saw the potential energy become kinetic. I beat him up and he was glad we were separated afterwards. I cannot even remember my white being dirty. I just ‘beat him mercilessly’.

Today was another dull day and it was really rainy. I got information from the office that the equipment is finally in the country. I really do hope so because all my plans hinges on it. It determines how long I have here.

The dour match between England and Colombia was spiced up towards the end and it ended in a penalty shootout. England won, they were lucky to win. As per play during normal time, they deserve the win, a little. It was an uninteresting game.

Why do I see your fist raised? Do you want to fight with me?

MON 2

“There is a thin line between patience and waste of time”-Me

I think I slept last night not feeling happy. I am sure of that. Of course there was a power failure no one could explain and a strange one considering the previous constancy. It lasted for two days, ending this evening, and many attribute it to the strong winds and rains of the past few days.

Last night, after a call, I realized that I should see Cici Eko sometime very soon. There were many other factors that could influence it, things termed as “situations beyond my control” and you know how much I like being in control of situations I am responsible for.

Wait…how long should I wait for one thing? There is a very thin line between patience and waste of time. I have said this before. You wait for something that will bring some sort of reward or satisfaction…patience is in some way pay-tience.

I did mails this morning to the office. It is about this waiting.

The rest of the day was almost dour, but I read and studied in the absence of power until it was restored this evening. Then I also went to the hospital on the street to see a little friend. He is a child in the family here that is family.

It may have been a cold day, but it was warmed by a surprisingly interesting movie called Expired Maiden. It was typically Nigeria and what I would wrongly judge by the name. I avoided watching it for over a week but the when the 98% rating persisted, I knew there was something great about it. Honestly, it was one of the best movie endings I have seen, totally unexpected but very artistic…the way I would have ended a book!

If the movie warmed today, the World Cup match between Japan and Belgium this evening made it hot. It was pulsating and had so great a twist. You missed it if you did not watch it.

SUN 1

“Faith can make things happen”-the caption of a jw.org song

I had a class today again and even when I was glad that faith made the 11am timing possible, I was at the risk of missing part of the class as Christian meetings are between 9am and just before 11am. I needed to coordinate my activities to be able to leave fast and meet up the class. It meant arranging that I get picked up by my colleague immediately after meetings.

Well, meetings were great. Evergreen and Puregold made sure that I sat with them but I had to tell them on time that I will be off just after the program so that I do not get delayed. They asked where I was going and I explained as much as I could. It really started when they asked while I carried another bag instead of the usual one I bring on Sundays. They asked what can of class it was that I had to attend on a Sunday and wanted more evidence. They saw the manual in the bag and opening it saw a 7/10. They started mocking.

I explained it was a classwork and they said I should have scored 10/10 and I should improve that score today.

Well, you now know that I will not be among those parents that tell their kids that they scored perfect scores in their school times. I was happy they did not see that my first score was 5/10 before the 7. We took only two inconsequential tests yesterday. They were subjective questions and I hate subjective questions.

Well, I got delayed a bit after meetings and my colleague was already waiting outside with the truck since 10.30am. Well we drove down to the venue and I was shocked it took less than 15 minutes. When I entered the lecture room by 11.16am, they were just about to start. It was as if they waited for me, but I was among the first half that arrived.

Well, we had two more quizzes, the first I scored 8/10 and the second I missed out scoring 10/10 by cancelling a correct question on the last minute and writing a wrong one, so I go 9/10. We had exchanged to mark, and the lady beside me was upset and kept asking “why did you not just allow it”?

I hope these kids will not remember to ask me.

JUNE

PERSONALITY OF THE MONTH

TOIYO BENJAMIN: THE BLOCK BEHIND THE BLOG

Sometimes I am short of words when I want to talk about him. I have watched him grow for almost all of his life and he used to be quite an enigma…the type they say ‘dynamites come in small packages’. I must say that he got less complex as the inches increased, but he is still a case.

He is more aware of this blog than almost myself and if his persuasion was not in the mix, it ,may not have been possible, that is why I call him the block behind the blog. His critical contributions has brought about the most changes to the blog.

Where he is partly responsible for the blog, he is fully responsible for the Hello Today page, this page. It was his idea, in fact he said the blog is not accepted by him if there is no journal page, for I am known more for my journal-keeping habit. So there will be no real blog about my arts without a journal.

This month, he visited and had the opportunity of firsthand editing from the back-end.

I really do hope he visits again, it was one of the best times of the month.

SAT 30

“No matter what happens, find a reason to smile”- Me

I have not been happy with you. I told you about the problem I have with my laptop and you are not telling me anything. I mean even words of comfort will be of help, but getting a new laptop for me will be the best thing to do.

Well, this laptop problem will really reduce my time here, time I spend with you.

Today was a day of a lot of reading and studying, and a day Senegal got knocked out of the World Cup. It means no African nation will make it to the next round.

I have been in deep thought for the past two days. I had an important but free training to attend today and tomorrow. I am a Lagosian and still not used to environmental Saturdays. I however do not reason as most Nigerians and was expecting to receive a text message or mail for a change in time, if any. The mail and text I had gotten was 8am to 5pm and I beat environmental sanitation to be there before 7am.

I hope you know that I was there alone, like a student that attended school during a public holiday or midterm break. The security guard was however very warm and it was such a good first impression. Someone drove in two hours later, and another shortly after that.

I spent the time of waiting to watch the Gilead Graduation on jw.org on my phone. It was very interesting to share the experiences of these ones trained to be missionaries. Many of the experiences shared were funny, others very touching. The rendering of one song was funny too…and though this was held in Patterson, New York, it felt as if I knew someone.

How thrilled I was when I heard the names of the Esabunors during the receipt of diplomas and assignments. I had known them during my national service when I visited my sister in Calabar. He was such an effective speaker and teacher.

The class started by 11.30am proper and people still kept arriving till 3pm. Well, any disappointment of the late starting time was put aside when the class started. There was evidence that it was a class I was meant to be in and also had a lot of professionals in similar fields in it. The most interesting thing was having the class for tomorrow shifted forward, which will enable me attend meetings first.

I only got back by 6.30pm, just as the rain started again. I was able to get my old laptop battery thanks to Solo my brother, my colleague and Ugo, my cousin that happened to be home just at the right time…that is why I am able to write this. Mother sent something too.

So, Messi and Ronaldo got kicked out of the World Cup on the same day. Sad for them. I was however more bothered about calling my non-biological daughter and others. Saturdays are often for calls.

How can I forget? A couple of people called to check if I was safe when Lagos rocked with the explosion of a petroleum tanker. You know that I am safe, but that is not the point. Those people really care even when I may not have spoken to them for some time. To borrow a word from that song I mentioned yesterday: “amem?” it is never easy. Very worthy of mention is Uduak Jack, I mean even when I missed her calls severally, and she did not give up and eventually got me this morning. You see, when Paris or London is facing a disaster, facebook sends a prompt and people start putting up posts like “pray for France” and “this or that is safe”.

People that care will not need facebook to remember. I aslo commend Sifon. She gave me a first call ever and it was to ensure that I was fine and safe, away from the explosion. I was safe, I was no more in Eko.

These gave me a reason to smile…

FRI 29

“…I want my childhood back, can you do that for me?”- the movie, Dry

So, for the past days, I have heard troubling news about scores of people killed in Plateau state. It is tragic thing…how will those criminals or armed herdsmen attack village to village with such impunity. 80 people were killed and still counting. The blood of innocent people is rolling down the hills of Plateau. It is so terrible a thing.

Ogb and I talked about this recently. What are the security agencies doing? Each time, there will be one massacre after another and no one is brought to book. Ogb and I are always discussing many issues with passion. We seem to reason at a similar level and reasoning abilities is one of the most desirable thing in a potential friend.

So, why was I really keeping mute yesterday and in a hurry? Something happened to my Cici Eko, I was so shocked that I refused to believe it. I pretended it never happened but it was true. A petroleum tanker with petrol lost control, had an accident and the products spilled. There was an explosion and an inferno that burnt cars and property and human beings. It was so sad and I was not happy not to be around to console her in her time of grief.

Today was fine, even when it rained for half of the day. I was out in service and just got back before the rain. It was good I went out, and even when I was back just after noon, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Oh, yesterday I listened to the song “Amem” for the first time. Tboy had said that it is the Southern Anthem and was shocked that we feigned ignorance. He had said I should ask Mother, that it should even be her favourite song. I wondered what Mother would know about popular Nigerian music. I had asked Solo and he was also shocked that neither I nor Ezra knew the song. He also said the favourite lines of the song was the same Tboy called favourite.

Popular Nigerian songs have low ratings for me, most of them, because of their poor lyrical content. It was not unusual then that I had low expectations for Amem, especially as I hate many things that are in trend. When I listened to Amem while cutting my hair, it sounded like the usual Nigerian music, but differently. It was a song that was a fusion of Efik/Ibibio, English and Nigerian Pidgin. It should be titled “Amem?” with the question mark because the word means “Is it easy?”

It was a song that encourages self-sufficiency and appreciation as it is not easy to do anything for anyone, it takes love and efforts.

I talked to Emem Udoekong today. She called and I answered. I was not meant to and I forgot. There are people that only need to beep me and I will call them, she is one of those. You need to show Emem more respect, she is responsible for there being any journal as she forced me to keep the first one during my national service. What do we call her? Journal Queen?

THUR 28

“Father is not just a title, it is a responsibility”- the movie, Hotel Choco

I have not been happy with you. I told you about the problem I have with my laptop and you are not telling me anything. I mean even words of comfort will be of help, but getting a new laptop for me will be the best thing to do.

Well, this laptop problem will really reduce my time here, time I spend with you.

Today was a day of a lot of reading and studying, and a day Senegal got knocked out of the World Cup. It means no African nation will make it to the next round.

I was sorry for them, but I think the same complacency costed them, they lost out for receiving more yellow cards.

Today was Christian meetings too, and I was surprise that a few people thought I had finally gone back to Cici Eko. I would not leave Garden City without saying goodbyes, at least.

You too, goodbye. Good night.

WED 27

“…do not take inward pleasure in her beauty; let her not catch you with her eyelashes”- Prov 6:25(Byington)

You know if the beauty the portion is referring to was that of the moon, I would not listen to this proverb and neither would I if the eye lashes were those of the setting sun.

The truth is, Byington translation is one of the funniest translations I have read and when I heard the quotation above in a movie, I knew it must be the translation.

Why am I putting all of this show? Today was a day that many things wanted to piss me off. I never let them though.

I had a lot of work to do from my computer. I got the first thing that tried to get me upset via a call from the office. The equipment that was said to arrive is not said not to heave. It was very annoying, and it means my stay here  is elongated.

Well, I had these documents I needed to be prepared and sent to the office, tedious stuff. The last thing I needed was power outage. I was not worried about it because there is almost constant power each day. Well, there was my laptop that can last for four hours with an outage so I was confident…then the power went out and the laptop went off, not even a second. I wondered what happened. I tried putting it on, no way. My laptop became a desktop and all my work was gone, well, some of it.

I waited for power and it did not come, until the evening. It was frustrating.

That was not all. After all that my talk about drinking tea with “German bread”, Germany got knocked out of the World Cup at the group stages. I did not allow all these make me unhappy. I tried making myself happy. I had movies to watch, I had not watched movies in a while so I decided to first see something funny: Three Wise Men. It was a movie I would rate a 5.5/10 but it did have lines that made me laugh unexpectedly. It was the one that included the Bible portion above that I loved the most.

I went on to see Dry, a movie I have longed to see for long. It was touching, so much that the little exaggerators were tolerable. It  was a movie worthy of being made, a real movie. Just that my eyes are a desert, I would have cried. You know, issues involving kids and the vulnerable touches my heart.

Well, I saw the sunshine and I knew that she will set in beauty if the clouds allowed. I waited for an hour to take those pictures for you, patiently at the kitchen balcony. The moon whispered and I went to the front balcony and she said she wanted to tell you hi.

The power supply came and here we are…desktop era.

TUE 26

“Perhaps greater than the world wars is the constant fights between the heart and the mind”- Me

I watched fantastic matches yesterday, matches full of controversies and packed with action. I am writing this before the Nigeria-Argentina match. I want Nigeria to win or draw, but my mind tells me they will lose by a two-goal margin. Argentina has always been their nemesis and they are wounded right now.

I have worked all day fro home today, in front of the computer. It is past 6pm, near match time and I am in front of the laptop because of you.

Interestingly, the TV went bad just this afternoon, so even it knows Nigeria will lose.

Well, I wrote something yesterday for the business page I started contributing to, and the owner, a friend wonders why I am not a business writer. We will talk later. my heart is beating for this match.

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I went downstairs to watch the match with our landlord, and he is a “spiritual” Nigerian fan who was using the “blood of Jesus” and the to make Nigeria win and the “holy ghost” to prevent Argentina from scoring. I used to watch Nigeria matches with less tension and more sarcastic annoyance as I used to consider them complacent, but after the last match, they had their fate in their own hands. They were to draw Argentina and qualify, but I felt they should try winning and get a draw. Well, up till the 12th minute, my  heart was pounding, and then the “holy ghost” could not hold on anymore for Messi scored. There was relief on my heart, it was the same old Nigeria and my mind took over. Then they equalized. That was totally unexpected and too early.

They held on pretty well and even had a couple of chances to win it, but they sat back to defend. It is the worst thing to do against an attacking team. Argentina at some point were at some point out of sorts. Ts was a few minutes to go and it happened. They lost.

A typical Nigerian will say “2-1, at least they tried”. You do not try by conceding a defeat when you should have fought for a draw and got a win. That Argentina team was not fantastic, they were quite ordinary and afraid apart from a moment or two of brilliance. Well, from tomorrow, true football fans will emerge. I will watch the world cup in peace.

Work on the computer is sometimes more difficult than another type of work. I am presently running away from the accounting aspect. I have been shifting it since morning and maybe I will do it tomorrow.

Please go to bed in peace, do not think about that loss, after all even the coach said the team is not ready. “Maybe 2022” he said.

MON 25

“Gifts are not meant to be expensive, but precious”- Me and Ndiana Essien(then 9)

I cannot forget about the circumstance that the above was said, but I am not in the mood to relate such a beautiful story when my heart is heavy. I learnt late last night that we lost someone in the company. He may be one of the person I have worked the longest of times on site. He was a safety officer in Lagos that had a famous name: Rotimi Williams. He was by far one of the most jovial and energetic persons I have met at work.

He calls me “My Able Engineer”(you see, emotions just made me spill my profession I have long hid from you). He said I was a “mummy’s boy” which I strongly denied. On site, we discussed everything, especially faith. He told me Yoruba proverbs and history. And when I tried to write one of the Spirit of Lagos series, he helped me out on the origin of the Yoruba word “agbero” and told me that as I randomly thought, “agbe-eru” was actually correct for the usage I wanted.

What else will I say, taking a young cousin, an engineer wannabe to site and he took him round and taught him safety, while helping me get praises for the lad being my “son”? I am pained to the marrow.

Life is the greatest give we have, and it is sad when we lose it. The Ransom of Christ will bring it back though. The next gift close to life is love.

Talking about gifts, I have been thinking of giving parting gifts to the greatest impact-persons of this Garden City sojourn, and by that I meant those who do not really have the capacities of giving back right now. Did I hear you say that you are among those ones? Better try dreaming again. I just wanted your opinion if it was a good idea, but I am told it is already. Thanks for trying to bribe me, but it will not work.

Is something you beg for a gift? You make me remember an incident yesterday. I was out preaching when this unmasked giant…I have forgotten how it is called in English, but in Ibibio we call it Abiakpo….ehe, this Abiakpo approached me and created a scene. He did not want to let me go unless I give him money.

He was like: “pastor, halleluya, efunmi owo…pastor, halleluya…”

I mean must he add the “halleluya” part, did I look like someone attending Cele or CAC or any of the white garment churches that shout: “helleluya, halleluya, halleluya…amen, amen, amen….”

I tried to go away and he will block me with the stick legs. At last I escaped. And this morning, I escaped while Cici Eko was not fully awake, back to Miss Garden.

Women can be jealous. I was thinking Garden will welcome me with outstretched arms, instead she poured me a bucket of cold water. I mean, with my T shirt and bags and shoes. Someone who came to pick me up was trapped by the rain-induced traffic so I dared the rain to meet me up, Garden waited for me to just land before she poured water from the skies.

I went straight to something related to work and did not return until evening.

Someone once accused me of being unfaithful to Lagos with Port Harcourt, but it is not true. Eko is my…well, a city I am dating. Garden is my workmate, my secretary. I do not understand where this her jealousy came from. I will not talk to her for two days. Good night.

SUN 24

“…I think I was swimming in the love and it nearly drowned me…”- about today

I sincerely apologize, Hello Today is fast becoming Hello Yesterday. Blame Cici Eko. Too many things happen in this city, too many things at once, yet you have no time to pen them down because she has only 20 hours in a day.

Eko is an energetic place, like the women selling food on the street that I saw fighting with each other as I went to use the ATM. It is a disaster to marry a wife with the tendency to fight, when she does that in public, nothing will seem able to stop her.

What else will I say about this city? The beggars that line the street and keep calling me: “oga yellow”. Hold on, are you doubting my complexion? I told you my mum said when I was born, I was like white plain paper. I am not in any way suggesting the superiority of any complexion, just telling you what my mother told me.

I woke up early today to complete my watchtower preparation and arrived at meetings on time. There were many more people to shower their love such that I felt embarrassed on the one hand and guilty on the other.

Meetings were fantastic. The talks, especially the last service talk. It was amazing when meanings were added to some verses in Proverbs. I will leave you to research, but there is a reference in that Bible book to the industry of ants. It encourages lazy ones to learn from ants. It goes on to narrate that a lazy man may get to a point where he has wants like an armed man.

An experience was given of what happened on traffic in Lagos recently. A man approached an SUV begging for money, but the car owner waved him off. A few moments later, the man wound down the glass to buy newspapers from a vendor. As he brought out 1000 naira to pay for the 5 papers, the beggar snatched the money and ran away, cursing the man for having money for papers and not for him.

I will tell you about preaching and being stopped by  a “giant” to,morrow. Let me sleep now.

SAT 23

“…tea, I drink with German bread…”- a wrong rendering of a song

I grew up watching Sound of Music, one  of the best movies ever made. I mean we sang all the songs and watched it a thousand times without getting tired. There was one line though that I did not get right initially. It was a movie that had a couple of things to do with Germany and the Second World War, so it was not out of place for me to sing: “…tea, I drink with German bread…” I was a young ‘man’ that gave an explanation to everything, I mean I had to convince myself that with the German political fever spreading in Europe, Austrians(where the movie was set), having been annexed by Germany, did eat German bread.

You will not blame me because the the bread-spread I was used to was margarine and maybe butter. I came across jam later after I saw the movie first and I had to correct the song in my heart: tea, I drink with jam and bread! I never really like jam though.

Well, I never liked Sound of Music the first time I saw its pack and a nun-looking Maria in front, I thought it is songs for a monastery choir. I came to love the movie, a billion times actually. Today I remembered the original mistaken song and I sang it once more. Germany shocked me by winning Sweden 2-1, despite conceding first and having someone sent off. They won in the the last minute of added time…90+5 mins. It was a lovely win, a crescendo to a pulsating match.

Today I was home, mostly home. It rained almost the entire day. Rain messes up the whole of Lagos, it is always a pitiable site. A drop of rain and we here are scared…at least me.

I cleaned up the whole place, I am not bragging, I did. I am pretty much someone that functions alone when it comes to chores.

Akin Came, Banjo came, Jackie came and Akin came again. I mean Lagos is always a place of visits. Cici Eko is trying to make me calm down my anger after what she had done, I am still upset.

We went to see the ‘special guest’ I talked about later in the evening and it was fun.

What a day it was. I want to sleep, tomorrow is a long day.

FRI 22

“every little thing counts”- about today

You will expect me to start with the Nigeria match and I will. They had lost 2-0 in the first Match to Croatia, Argentina and Iceland drew 1-1. We are a country of Mathematics, so when Croatia beat up a star-studded Argentina with Messi and co last night, the calculation was simple. If Croatia defeated Argentina 3=0, then we will eventually defeat Argentina 1-0 or by the margin of a goal, but we will defeat Iceland 2-0.

The first half went and they created an ugly record of being the first team not to manage a single shot on or off target. They did not concede though, but came close to doing that some four times. The second half they shocked everyone. In fact, it was the same players but a different team. I watched up to the first Musa goal, said to be the best goal in the tournament so far. I did not see his second as I was late for a meeting. They won 2-0, setting up one of the most fantastic finale of the group stages next week.

What meeting was so important? You know I am in Lagos this week end(of discussion) or should I rather say, I am in Lagos this weekend. I had to be here to meet a special guest. It has something to do with faith, so you will understand little….or is your name faith?

It was a meeting slated for 5.30pm and it was more important than the football. After the meeting though, we  had an after-meeting and there we talked about football, I mean this special guest knew so much about the beautiful game that it nearly shocked me. Then he told us beautiful experiences and we longed for more but time was reluctant.

I had told you what to expect from Cici Eko when we are reunited, but you did not warn me. I will talk about this later so that you may be ashamed, but really, I opened my arms expecting a hug and she just moved away…in public. I was embarrassed.

I was out today in service, and it was exciting, I mean it is rare to say this when just back from the Garden City, but it was. It was really overcoming potential conversation stoppers that made us happy.

Wait, if you do not know, the most difficult job to do is not working on a rubbish truck, but preaching the good news. If it is marketing a product, you talk to those interested and leave those who would not buy. This is different, you are more interested in those who are not interested. You worry a lot about them, because this message means their lives. It is like trying to rescue someone from a burning house when the fire is not obvious. You cannot just leave, you have to try again.

So…it has been a while I met people who would not listen because they are Muslims despite we saying God’s message is for all. A woman washing clothes did the same. We had started on a friendly note though, the greetings. She objected to everything else, from reading the Bible to quoting it to just discussing. It was in the same compound a Muslim man sternly asked us out.

Well, I told her tactfully what I had wanted to talk about, it was more about her and what she was doing…about how she handles her home…I saw no objection. She was surprise and gradually, we were discussing without her knowing. And when I said all what I said was from the Bible, if I can read to confirm, she said yes. In the ens she agreed that the message was for everyone, Muslims too.

Another person we met was tougher. he pretended(initially) to welcome us, and then he started the objection. It is a very common one that you know, and maybe have used before: pray before you start preaching. We tried to reason, no way. He started making claims, that he knows the Bible a lot and is a deacon in his church. I have known Jehovah’s Witnesses a lot, and I will advise that you do not boast to them that you know the Bible a lot. It does something to them, no, not to get them upset, but they will finish you and you realize that you actually do not know the Bible. Theses people, some of them have been preaching from the womb and they have tools to research on the spot. They may know what a scripture says, a keyword and they are there using their phones. Please, if you still want to boast about your Bible knowledge a theology school, remember to always add “a little” at the end.

So, I was quite all through as the man refused to listen and he demeaned the sister trying to talk to him by almost waving her off and half-mockingly gestured to me: brother, don’t you have anything to say on this?

I repeated the sister’s points and he made further claims, that he too goes on evangelism and this is what he does and that is how they do it. I got what I needed and gave him an illustration involving himself and his boss. Afraid that he might answer rightly, he refused to give a reply. He had his friend there and his wife joined, insisting that his name is Deacon so-so. Okay Deacon, answer me. I guess that was the  point he was to tell us go away, make it become an argument and we walk, but we had other plans. I told him that the preaching work is not just what we do without being commanded. Well, he had to answer my question and he did.

I asked him if he would like to see the command Jesus gave with regards to preaching, and if prayer is in there we would? He was willing, certain that prayer would be there in his Bible and not in ‘ours’. So he opened, ‘praised the Lord’, read a verse and ‘amened’. I was taking him on a slow journey of Matthew 10, first institution of the public preaching. He saw from the Bible that the instructions Jesus gave was a “command” which he agreed needed to be followed to the later, that is what commands are meant to be.

As he read further and further from the Bible on his phone, his voice went milder and milder, the wife started to smile, it was the truth. i commend him for not arguing, he saw it plainly and accepted it.

The other sister added another lovely Bible portion, the same Matthew 5 I love reading. While we acknowledge the importance of prayer, even Jesus on many occasions while teaching did not start with prayer. He did not even start his famous sermon with it.

In the end, the family asked us to call again, they were excited.

It is true what the Bible says about preaching…if you are not sent forth to preach, you cannot be successful in it.

THU 21

“…blood makes us relatives, but sacrifices make us family”- the movie, Trials of Mape

Okay, I am very choosy about the movies I watch and that quest have made me see very good movies in the recent past. I try to avoid shock and I started doing top class Nollywood. I do not regret my decision.

Just last night, I saw one of the best movies I have seen this year: Trials of Mape…the costume, the language…everything was fantastic.

I decided to be very quiet today because I have been busy, busy more with my heart racing than my legs moving, being stuck in one place but moving around mentally with my heart being in another place a thousand miles away.

I have thought about this for some time, this Lagos-Port Harcourt argument is becoming a Messi-Ronaldo argument. There are no winners or losers in such argument, both sides win and lose. When in Lagos, I miss PH, when in PH, I miss Lagos. When in Lagos, I hate Lagos, same for PH…in some aspects…it goes round and round and I realize that no matter how hard I try, I will still miss different aspects of both Cicis…I meant cities.

Talking about Ronaldo, he scored yesterday, but it was Messi’s Argentina being defeated 3-0 by Croatia that shocked everyone.

Good night. It is not goodnight…please social media, note it.

WED 20

“Business is Business”- A popular saying

I hear you guys say that I joke about almost everything. I like the fact that you added “almost” because I could be a pretty serious person. I am a business man….

Please do not laugh. I know what you want to talk about,  that of all my siblings I am the less business-inclined because I am always after risk assessment and whatnot. That may be true, but you know, they say the “Igbo blood” runs through our veins and no one can really be sure how it will manifest.

Enough of that talk. Business means being serious at what you do and not merely buying and selling. I am always serious at what I do…most of it actually. So, I am a business man. Besides, I have a lot of business ideas. Only that as a business man, I want to sell the ideas and not give them to you for free. If you doubt me, just give me 6 million Naira now, I will pay your a 10% profit in 12 months. A trial will convince you.

Well, today was a lazy day where work was done over the phone, mostly. Talks with the Lagos office about an inspection and mails send and received. I do not know if this is what they call “working from home”, but if it is just it, then it is not fun.

Did I tell you I tried my hands on that freelance writing task I told you of? Well, I just did. It is funny that I have to be a …Business Writer. Please don’t laugh. Take a look at this:

WHY THE SAYING: “BUSINESS IS BUSINESS” REMAINS TRUE

Football can really make the world go crazy. I have never heard so many people talk about one topic in my life than at the time there is a football World Cup! I love football too, watching it at least; and there is this kind of intensity and excitement that the sports bring that one cannot ignore.

Well, in Africa we are so tied to believing that things should be given us because of some kind of privilege determined by an inherent right that we become lax and expect results. The truth is, football is business and so is every other thing in life. The approach of most African teams in the ongoing World Cup is thus annoying.

One business-like African team I miss at the tournament is Cote d’ivoire, the one you call Ivory Coast. There is however one player from the Ivorian golden generation that I look at with a lot of sadness: Emmanuel Eboue. He approached his football as a business, but his business as a game for fun. In the end, he messed up his business and thus his life.

Do not let your thoughts stray, Eboue was one of the best-behaved lads I have seen in the sports. He was easily identifiable with his modest demeanour, no tattoos, no hair dyes, no alcohol, partying or gambling problems. So it was strange that just when he was due to retire from football and enjoy his life, there were rumours of him committing suicide.

Eboue himself came out to say that he contemplated suicide because he lost everything he had worked for and everything he had. And by that he meant millions of pounds he made playing for prestigious football clubs in Europe, including Arsenal. It also included properties, investments, his marriage and access to his three children. He was then sleeping on a mattress in the living room floor of a friend’s house.

Where did it all go wrong? Eboue let emotions mix with his business, and did not seek a professional to manage his finances. To put it in his own words:

“I look back and say ­‘Emmanuel, you have been naive… why didn’t you think about that before?’ It is hard.

“Very, very hard. The money I earned, I sent it to my wife for our children.

“In Turkey I earned eight million euros. I sent seven million back home. Whatever she tells me to sign, I sign.

“She is my wife. The problems with FIFA were because of people advising me. People who are supposed to care. But it was because of them FIFA banned me.”

So Eboue was busy signing off his earnings and property because his now ex-wife was the one bringing the documents. He got the knockout punch when the woman filed for divorce and he realised everything he thought he had belonged to the woman, and without any money to take care of the children, she was awarded their custody.

Personal financial management is not something that Africans readily embrace, but that is one of the main reasons why the wealth of Africans (albeit stolen wealth of politicians) hardly extend beyond a generation. In developed countries, even earnings by middle class families are managed by professionals in trusts and the sudden plunge into poverty by a change in condition is often avoided.

Determination, persistence and hard work may bring success, but only efficient management could keep the success. M****** will help you manage your personal finances and assets in a profitable way, so stop getting financial advice from a mediocre.

Emmanuel Eboue was eventually offered a role in a club out of compassion so that he could at least pay his bill, not everyone will be that lucky. Business is Business!

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How did you find it?

TUE 19

“If you cannot take risks, you cannot take any action”-Me

Yesterday, I was deep in thought all through. Last night, I decided to take a risk and this morning I started to execute it. As you know, making decisions are very tough, very tough. Sometimes you have to take an action and be blind to the many “what ifs”.

There were many things on my mind this morning and subsequently my first fear was confirmed, the consequence of my decision. By consequence I mean opportunity cost. Understand it the way you would.

Hold on, before you get upset, I need your help on something. If someone loves you so much but always show it in a naughty way like feigning anger and you leave the person behind for a while, what should the person do? I mean what if I am to meet Cici Eko anytime soon, will she not roast me? Do I need to buy her flowers or something?

Work did go well today, but do not tell me how I did it. There was a lot of personal sacrifices in it, but it was done.

I have encountered many religious people this week already. Yesterday I was on my street to cut my hair when two women came to tell me that I should repent, accept Jesus as my “personal lord and savior” and be saved. They quoted from the easiest Bible portion to remember: John 3:16. I ended up telling them more, what is really needed for salvation, mentioning scriptures they looked up. You see, you should be careful preaching to someone that listens a bit and then start directing you to scriptures you did not know on the same subject. He just may be a Jehovah’s Witness.

Today I was in a public bus and there was this man preaching for an hour. He was screaming and speaking in the “tongue of angels”. He said if one did not join him, the person is committing sin. He claimed God spoke to him. I was busy with my earpiece and did not mind the things he directed by him. Everyone else was carried along: “may God oppress your oppressor…suppress your suppressor…bulldoze your bulldozer…confuse your confuser…amen!!!!”

Then he said during collections: “Give God what you have…2000[Naira], 1500, 500 or even 200… do not give God change or small money, it is an insult…”

I attended meetings today, it is a special week. The welcome nearly moved me to tears.

MON 18

“Blood is thicker than water, but spirit is thicker than blood”-Me

So, Noah’s rain fell last night, or was it this morning? It fell for maybe four hours or less, from 2am. At first, it was cold so I shut the windows and prepared for a stage of sleep that will be most pleasant. The rain persisted and in my dreams I saw the house floating, the whole of the three floors, floating like an ark. What I did not see was Noah and the animals.

I am not joking, I saw the house floating in my dream, like an ark, and the house has three floors, and we stay on the third floor, like Noah did. In that dream, I almost woke Tboy up, to look out the window and see if there is any available dove he could send on an errand. Well, the rain elongated the sleeping times of both of us and we woke up to see that it had ended.

Another public holiday meant that there was enough time for an extended morning worship. You know, Tboy brought up a research question that I had never thought about and we spent time researching to get answers. We did. It made us digress into more research, and we encountered Mary, I mean the name. If you know what that name means, you will frown.

Today was a proper holiday, but I did go out in the afternoon to see off Tboy. I received calls and made calls, most of which was related to work…no, just half of it. I spent some time too getting confused. I like being in control of situations I am responsible for, and I really hate being in a ‘matter of can’t help’ situation. I was in one and I needed to consult, sample opinions, pray, measure up times and events and act.

As much as I hate not being in control, I love the feeling of deciding to sacrifice or take a risk for what is more important and sticking with it. I always believe that things will eventually sort themselves out, so I do not need to panic too much.

My colleague who lost his daughter got back. It is such a terrible thing, death.

I ended today being more sure of tomorrow than I started the money. They say “tomorrow is an unborn child” but these days one can know the gender of the child before birth.

SUN 17

“A foolish person believes every word…”-The Bible

I was a questioning child, I never believed many things I was told until there was evidence or at least I can prove them. It was a difficult thing to be in the age and place that that I grew up as it was perceived as an insult. Maybe that was why I kept quiet more often and everyone said that I was quiet. Of course I was quiet but always thinking.

There were no Christian meetings today, it was one of those rare days and I knew I will spend some time preaching. We had a swell morning worship and I think we wasted a bit more time than I planned to so I ran late for the preaching and missed breakfast. Please do not act like my sister and tell me breakfast is the most important meal of the day, I already know. You see, I think you need to read 1 Pet 2:21 and John 4:31-36. Thank me later.

Let me tell you one thing, hunger comes when your mind is on food. My mind was not on it, and I was not hungry, not even until I got home and had lunch. It is strange because just yesterday, I had a late breakfast when I checked the time and saw it was 10am already, at once I started having a fainting sensation as if I had fasted 40 days and 40 nights.

Later this afternoon, I went with Tboy to play football. I think it was not really the day to play but I had told Goodnews and he helped fix it. We had to forgo the Germany-Mexico game that was just starting on TV for it and I did not regret it. At first it was funny when Tboy came out with a Nigeria jersey and said he is going to overturn the scores of yesterday. He had fun. Of the 6 sets I watched play, they won five and we left when they lost the last one having carried two championships. He scored a goal and provided 3 assists. It was amazing to watch.

You may have wondered why I started today talking about doubting things. Well, I have always challenged generally accepted sayings and quotes, I do not think most are validated, but mostly just accepted because of the people who said them. Let me tell you a story:

THREE MEN ON GUARD

There was a concrete platform in a swampy area that was always guarded by three soldiers at all times. The soldiers were told to guard the square concrete slab with their lives. They were not to sleep but kept to their post on shifts.

Years passed and the tradition was kept, it was passed on from commander to commander. There was really nothing they were guarding, but no one questioned, it has always been like that.

One day a new commander started to question why that order was made, why three fully armed soldiers should guard a concrete slab that there was nothing on. He started asking questions and all he was told is that the directive was passed on from one commander in charge to the next that replaced him. He was not satisfied and started digging records.

Well, what he discovered will surprise you. The first commander was in charge of the base being built. It was in the creeks and when that concrete platform was cast, there was the problem of animals coming up there to destroy it before the concrete set. They found an elevated platform and made it a playground. Frustrated, the commander devised a means. Three soldiers were to be posted around the platform with instructions to shoot and intimidate any animal that attempted to climb the concrete slab and keep on the watch [until the concrete was set]. Well, the commander was posted to another base almost immediately and the next one inherited the command sheepishly, without finding out why. Others did the same.

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About the World Cup, Germany lost 1-0 to Mexico. It was a shock for the World Champions to lose their opening game. That was more of a shock than Brazil drawing 1-1 to Switzerland.

Well, I think I will be very busy in the remaining days of the year. I got a writing job, no, not my blog but a job. Do not ask about money because not every work we do is for money. I am writing because of passion, because I really do want to support that course and I am nervous if I will be able to keep up the pace. I love the thrill it will give. You will either hear more or less of it.

Something else. I have this friend whose only criticism for my works is that they are “too virtuous”. Tochukwu is a critical mind, I like him. He writes too, but he says I would not like his writing, that writers like me seem “spiritually driven”. The funny guy even added that I should start a travel blog.

Please there is too much information for your ears. Goodbye and Good night.

 

 

SAT 16

“Instead of the wrestling match to become a fight, let the rain fall”-an Ibibio proverb.

It was one of the heaviest rains I have experienced here and it was an election day. Last year in Eko, one rain that caused floods on the Mainland was also on the Local Government election day and both elections were feared because they had the potential of becoming violent. It was as if the rain on both occasions were divine. I do not like any sort of violence for any reason.

You see, even if it were from a distance and maybe by the police, we heard two gunshots yesterday. It is of no use to panic, there is a whole street off the major road and then the safety of the third floor. The thing is that trouble is not good, no matter how far away it is. Trouble is not good. Fighting is not good. War is not good.

So, as you would expect, I spent the entire day indoors, not even going down the stairs. Even without the rain, many would have done the same but the rain took over half of the day. We had time to watch matches though.

I will like to mention the day’s text about God’s creation, it was very nice. We even saw videos of songs about it and it was amazing.

Argentina drew with Iceland and Nigeria is about to play…we will talk after the match…it is with Croatia. When there is time, the World Cup is something to watch. No matter how non-fan you think you are, when Nigeria plays, you want to know what goes on. In fact, it is the non-fans that have hypertension.

So, the first half is over and I just watched the most boring game in the tournament so far. Nigeria was horrible and even scored an own goal. Someone said they are a second half team. Let us see…

They conceded a penalty and conceded the second goal. It is still the worst game so far. It was terrible to watch, the Nigerian team. They were just falling, always playing to the back and laboured. Then there seemed to be no creative player. It was 2-0, at least not as bad as the 3-0 I thought it would be. It was a very poor game to watch.

So I ended the day still under house-a-rest. I meant I did not go out but stayed at home all through resting.

I should have some typing to do. Good night.

FRI 15

“Hope you will not be publishing news in your blog in future?”-my friend Norbert.

It looked like a simple question, but it was truly a deep question by McNorb as we sometimes call him. Most blogs start as blogs and have their design and pattern, but soon everyone starts to share gossip like Linda Ikeji. Linda is a gossip news blogger and not a writer. She does what she does well. Other bloggers that are writers often see that their aim to make money off the blog does not seem to materialize or attract the crowd, so they do a Linda.

I write for a blog. At first the idea was bringing people with strong opinions together and we write about issues. I had my column Expressions, arbitrarily, that is. I do not think it was up to a month before the blog turned to the same old news sharing blog with the columns relegated except when new articles are published. It is one of the reasons I got discouraged sending articles. The focus was not creative writing and it worried me.

Norbert is right to voice this concern from the start, but I am not someone who thinks to write, or lack what to write. Writing sometimes is like relieving too much ink, the same purpose a pressure relief valve does to a pressurized pipeline. It is…natural, I suppose and the only things that are real obstacles are space and time.

Today was public holiday and I had hoped not to tell my body so, but I woke up late and feeling unwell. I think it is a flu. I have been sneezing since last night. Waking up and standing up seemed hours apart and I was motionless when time for preaching slipped away, nursing what seemed like a headache.

Well, today was a routine contact day and it meant I made a lot of calls as people would be at home. I think I often feel naturally inclined to contact people, it is like a biological clock. I remembered that I was meant to be in Uyo this weekend and had to call to cancel a supposed meeting. When in Uyo, there are always too many people to meet and too little time.

I spent time today on the blog. With Tboy around, we tried and solved one problem he had brought up. It is interesting how the solution was come up with.

We had a visitor too. It was nice someone decided to stop by on a holiday, even when it was for a couple of hours. I suppose I prefer to call the person by the name of a precious metal as some do, others by a quality. Well, I was scared when it seemed someone was competing with me for the most number of personal names.

The world cup. Even if you are not a football far, you would enjoy the match between Spain and Portugal that ended Spain 3, Ronaldo 3. It was a pulsating match. You missed a lot if you did not watch it. The other matches were far below the pedigree of this one.

I still have not forgotten what Norbert aid. Let me sleep over it.

THU 14

“Don’t confuse my personality with my attitude, my personality is who I am; my attitude depends on who you are”-Frank Ocean

I was tired of being me just yesterday. I mean it is so much of a task to be myself. That is me sounding weird right, but it is not the case, I am just being realistic. I think sometimes we hide who we truly are not because we pretend to gain a favour, but because we are protecting ourselves from people taking undue advantage.

For instance if someone is selfless or hardworking and always willing to help, he may have to curtail some of that when he realizes that everyone seem to heap their problems and tasks on him. It is not putting up a pretense but being cautious.

I scanned through my EKOes journal (vol 1) yesterday and I saw where I wrote about being ‘done with people’ and there were quotes from my brother and my best friend on the need to love myself more and not killing myself to satisfy others. Those were strong words. I recalled that the previous year I had the same issues. What about this year? Your guess is right, I mean whatever you are thinking. So it is not just being done with people generally, but putting each one at their proper perspective by showing them “attitude”. It is a difficult thing, you know.

I hope you heard the World Cup is starting today. Why are you asking me which of the “world cups”? There is only one World Cup. Forget about all those cricket and rugby cup, those ones are not it.

I know I am pregnant with thoughts, but it is strange that my preferences for some kind of food has persisted, and it mostly centers on breakfast. Sometime ago, I substituted a mum-recommended beverage to one that was based on cereal and chocolate. Then I did what mum will not approve of: tea and coffee.

The bread soon followed. I had a longing for a certain type. Now I have added ‘black’ tea and brown sugar without milk. Mum must not hear of the sugar part. I do not think I want to be experimental, I just feel these things and try them out, or taste them and when they do not feel great, I opt for something else. But is it really true what they say about pregnant people? I am becoming worried because I am pregnant with thoughts.

Maybe a fifth of the world had the World Cup on their minds. It started in Russia today and for the next one month or just above that, the world will be talking about almost nothing else. I saw most of the opening game before leaving for something more important: Christian meetings. Russia eventually won Saudi Arabia 5-0. That is much of a score.

If no one will talk about Nigeria in the field of play, then they made headlines before the tournament with their kit. In fact, they are said to have won the ‘fashion world cup’ even before the main tournament started. I think their much-loved ‘knee-length dress with a design of  the eagle on the chest’ inspired my outfit this evening to meetings…no, mine inspired theirs because I had it first.

Meetings were very fine. Strange to have the meetings of Sunday today. Tboy was with me too, but after meetings, someone came from behind and tried to cover my eyes. It was not Caleb because he was in front of me. I knew it was either of Puregold or Evergreen, but as the grip did not pull me down, I knew it must be Evergreen. Caleb had been trying to negotiate for me to come and visit them tomorrow, but with Saturday elections looming and the possible insecurity, it was advised at meetings that everyone stay indoors before dusk on Friday.

I am beginning to feel sorry for these kids already. How will they feel when I leave. Ezinne or Evergreen had worked hard to broker ‘peace’ between me and Puregold. What was the problem? The later was ‘angry’ with me because I wrote something in the book she used to take note at meetings. I urged her to concentrate as she was distracted.

Ezinne insisted that we seal the peace deal with a handshake. I was delighted because I got the ‘handshake of peace’ I have clamored for these past days. I felt like Donald Trump and maybe I too should be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize… or maybe Ezinne who has become increasingly fond of an Ezra she has not met.

Well, they met Tboy. The reaction was strange. At first they said that he cannot be Ezra and then that he looked like he is 13 and if he has finished secondary school. Then they asked 150 questions nonstop. I was weary and tired but they did not let us go. Children can ask questions, but these one were interrogating.

I am tired. Please do not ask me another question.

WED 13

“This ‘Adulting’ is not easy. I’m even tired of complaining about it.”-my friend Afam

You should not be surprise that I put up this quote because I have often told you that growing up sucks. I think we all want to have the freedoms and innocence of children while maintaining the respect of adults. The beauty of being children are only appreciated and desired by those who are no longer children.

I was at work today, early. I will not tell you about it, but I will like to tell you that I had a guest. It is family though. Do you remember him, Toiyo? He is the one I call the block behind the blog, the web behind the site. He visited. He brought something from home but I am not willing to tell you.

You see, I am still someone’s son, and let me enjoy the freebies while it is still possible.

What is really boring about being a grownup? Many things, and the folks did not tell us this is how it is going to be. I mean, I am not just talking about responsibilities, but lack of time and many troubles  or things to worry about. Perhaps the most annoying thing about growing up is the people, once children that are now also grownups. These people generally disappoint a lot. It can be so annoying.

I feel so tired today and keep making mistakes while typing. Please let me sleep.

TUE 12

“Is there anything of which one may say, “Look at this- it is new”? It already existed before our time” -Eccl 1:10 

Days ago, I was worried when my tablet could not come on, or do I want to call it a pad? Just yesterday, I came across an entry in EKOes journal where I was talking about how the ancient people will be resurrected. I had written:

“I can only imagine Abraham asking for a customized solar-powered hoverboard and telling me: “son…when I was on earth[the last time], I trekked a lot…where can I switch this thing on?” Or maybe making a transparent submarine for Jonah and watching him relive the fish-belly experience while it is streamed live on Moses TV, Moses watching it on a tablet!”

I had written that in response to one brother that visited the congregation. After asking of my profession, he had said I had a lot of work to do in God’s kingdom.

Yesterday, I  had to think of the supposedly new discoveries in my age and realized they were not that new. We had learnt about Zachariah, the father of John the Baptizer. He was deaf for a while and used the JSL to communicate. I meant Jewish Sign Language. When it was time to name the boy, he asked for a tablet that had a stylus pen…that I think should be as advanced as a Samsung Galaxy Note 8. It is amazing.

Talking about hoverboards, does it not make people move without exerting energy? Elijah used something like that that was faster than a car and it was green because it was powered by no fuel. It was powered by the holy spirit. This Elijah must have been an engineer or pilot. Someone sent a video today showing technologies, including flying boards. Did you not read of the flying chariot of Elijah? It even had fire that was not burning him. How did God do that?

Oh, how can I forget? Give me your hand, I want to shake it…be fast na…you just missed the opportunity of making international headlines. All through today, the media was flooded with analysis of handshakes between Presidents Trump and Kim. It was the first time an American president have met with the leader of North Korea. Just a year ago, their insulting each other made the world grope for dictionaries. I think one word trended: dotard.

Today went well, that is all I can say. It was sunny, but my colleague not being back yet makes work a bit difficult and Garden City boring.

I got that +44 number call again and they do not just want to leave me alone. I have politely told them so. Sometimes I reject the calls, but then he used another number. I have my lawyer to thank, don’t I? I told him my lawyer said NO. Mabel said so, didn’t she? I need to talk to her again to get a call restraining order for the person. Don’t laugh because I am serious.

I spoke with Mother and I am making arrangements to spice up things a bit. I spoke with a couple of people too and my heart is longing to see Toroja and experience the antics of someone that people call The Happy Girl.

Talking about mother, I think Cici Eko may not be the best lady in the world, but she has spiced up my outward display of respect and it has become a part of me. The way I now slightly bow when I greet older people…one will think that I want to fall if one is not used to the culture. I do not roll on the ground though. For people like my mum, Eko has taught me MA-nners. I mean, she taught me how to say “ma” all the time: yes ma, thank you ma, ok ma, goodbye ma… I used to say mum in all those ma places before.

Mine is better. My younger brother Ezra was in Abeoukuta for about a year during national service. That ancient town taught him SAH-nners. He calls everyone “sah”, even baby boys.

His own is not as bad as that of many people in Lagos or  even other Yoruba lands. When someone is talking to them, they mix the “sah-ma” identities. Sometimes they will be absentminded and to ask what you said, they will say: “ma?” if you are male and “sah?” if you are female. Sometimes they will say “ma?sah?” Masa is an Hausa snack o. Tell them. Good night.

MON 11

“I do not envy those who rush into marriage, I pity them” -Me, about Cici Eko

This woman disgraced me today and that is what I am writing what you see above. I have told her many times that the lagoon is for fishing and Third Mainland Bridge is for cars. Now everyone is asking me if I have heard that she is disgraced. We are in a simple relationship and now this, what if it were marriage? I hope you know I am talking about Cici Eko or Eko City…please, smart up, I meant Lagos.

It was from late yesterday that I heard what I refused to believe. A woman drove(abi was she driven?) a Range Rover Sports to Third  Mainland Bridge and jumped into the Lagos Lagoon, just like that, she wants to become fish snack.

What? Did you not hear me? Keke does not go on that bridge…I meant Range Rover. You are asking of how much the car costs? Do you not know that more money means more problems? And suicide is now having classes. The poor hang on the fan, the rich die on Third Mainland. This is so insane, suicide was never ‘a Nigerian thing’. We thought it belonged to Japan.

I am afraid now that it has come. Kidnapping came and we became champions, same with terrorism and militancy…Nigeria seems so good at perfecting evil.

The above said, why is suicide on the rice rise in Lagos, public suicide? We live in a country that people pretend a lot. We live our lives as shows, an act, a drama. No one knows that after that smile and blinking of the eye o snapchat, it is cries and tears that comes when the camera is off. Then lives are pretty messed up. Family structures are no longer stable. They are a lot of betrayal of trust that was not so common. Then debts.

You have still not answered the question. Okay, the main cause of the suicide is a preventable and manageable medical condition known as depression. It seems recognized everywhere except in Nigeria. Depression is often replaced in Nigeria with another D word: Devil. It is the devil that causes everything. For example, the woman’s husband may just be about to find out that none of their three children belonged to him and so will drive her away from the house and she will lose everything and ‘go back from the gutters where he picked her’. She cannot stand the shame or losing wealth. At that moment, she is mentally unstable and should be rehabilitated….you think I am sounding western abi?

Why then are the suicide becoming public? The same reason people still carry guns and shoot kids at schools in the US: Fame. She lived her life on top social circles and on the media, she wants to die a celebrity. Now, these celebrity deaths go viral and people copy because one will at least be in the national and even international news at death. It is like having a “state death”. it is such a shame and pity. Please talk to someone and save a soul.

Enough of Cici Eko. I hope to take time and explain my different Cici loves one of these days(if you remind me) so that Eko may know that I could go back to any of them. Maybe she will behave. Her action is like that of a date who keeps going to a restaurant to eat and not pay. When they start beating her up, someone else will give you a call. It is a shame.

Talking about helping people out. I once talked about being a stubborn believer in people. I think I just learnt what this attitude of sticking and pulling people to action and never letting go is  called, it is like a double espresso coffee. My head is swelling already. It is called LOYAL LOVE!!!!

“it is what makes you cling to a brother in need and cling to him until you pull him out of despair. Now that is the type of love we show to our brothers and sisters in need!”

Why are you looking at me as if I dropped from a spacecraft? Should I go ahead and tell you that I learnt the meaning of Gilead and the real difference between a heap and a pile? I will not tell you because all you are interested in are stories.

I had a great day today and since I did laundry, I had a great day. One does not give all clothes to dry cleaners. But it scares me that when I washed even white clothes, there seem to be something black about it. This black soot is slowly killing us here.

Today was Christian meetings. Of course, you know why it is so. I prepared well for it and enjoyed it. And many babies did come to greet me before and after it. It was the names that stood out. This congregation is a place of unique names. You already know of Puregold, Evergreen and Bestman. There are other nice names like Oreva, Maro, Mawe, Runo, Tome… these names are Urhobo/Isoko. that axis have the sweetest names in short form. Many of them when elongated are either a mouthful or sounds… not the ones above though.

If someone tells you he is Gaga….oh…you will be thinking of Lady Gaga. No way. That is actually Ogheneogaga. You see. So always tell someone to give you his/her name in full first.

Why am I talking about names? I met a beautiful young woman called Zane after meetings. The sound of the name will absolutely strike me. I wrote a lost story that the lead character was Zen. It was actually the short for Zenobia, a queen and my favorite lady in history. This Zane however is an Arabic name that means Beautiful. Other kids brought her to meet me. her mother explained the meaning of her name and she is just less than 2. What are you always thinking?

SUN 10

“Greetings is not love, a person only greets someone he likes to” -an Efik saying

I promised to tell you something about yesterday evening. You did not remind me, but I try to keep my promises when and if I remember them. You like gist sha…

There is something I enjoy about public transportation down south, even in Port Harcourt. It is the greeting. The driver, the passengers and even the one just joining often greet, mostly in English or pidgin. In fact, you are greeted according to how you dress. Sometimes I forget that I am not in Lagos and put on the arrogance, but there will be a “good evening sir”, “welcome sir”, “una weldone o” etc. It is lovely. I stopped doing it in Lagos when such make people feel you just came.

So yesterday I was back from the Kingdom hall and stopped a commercial tricycle…see greeting. It was very different, so respectful. I mean two form-able(defined as having the potential of forming or pretending) ladies were at the back seat I joined. I was supposed to be the one to greet as I joined, but they started greeting even before I entered. It was the greeting always given to someone deemed very responsible…like a banker returning from work…oh…it is this tie o…

….ehe…let me take a look again…the dressing was fine sha. It was Business Class. If I was just back from Lagos and the people greeting were minors, I would have paid their fare. I cannot pay for ladies o, I don’t want anybody to think that I would ask for a phone number when I have too many people to call already.

As the keke moved, my mind wandered to comparing Lagos with Port Harcourt and of all things, the area of comparison was beggars. The last time I was in Lagos, I had a barrage of beggars. They know someone that just arrived and in just that weekend, up to 20 people begged, outside those I rebuff before they said anything. In Lagos, begging is a desperate business and there are so many that they are categorized. There are up to 50 categories of Lagos beggars or even more. In Port Harcourt, they are almost indistinguishable and far fewer. I had experienced none in the almost three months here. I wondered if the tie will make me experience one. I smiled because I had taken just enough money for grocery and transportation. I was deep in thought when I stepped down from the keke and a smiling middle-aged woman greeted me with Queens English. If it were Lagos, I would have been suspicious but I paused. Then she continued…

“My son, I am on my way to…but the money I am with is not enough, so…” Hei! She was a beggar…just what I thought of just happened. My tie sold me out…posh guy that can part with 1000 Naira, or maybe 500. I told her the truth o and moved away immediately. I had no “extra” money. How come she singled me out in that crowded place? I was laughing to myself when I left. It was like a dream.

I stopped by a shop to get…a very long bread. I have continued this longing for thick non-sliced bread that I started before leaving Lagos. I was still reflecting on the effect of my tie while taking a short stroll home when someone greeted me. It was a lingering greeting, like someone trying to say “don’t you remember me?”. I thought he was living on the street or maybe an interested person that attends Christian meetings. I did not want to be a posh snub so I paused.

“my name is Israel…I am just returning from work and I am hungry…” I nearly laughed. Twice beaten, twice shy. I told him the truth again: I used up all the money I had carried from home. Is it me, or does coming back from work rhyme with being hungry and having no money?

Enough of yesterday. Hello Today!

So there was no Christian meetings today and you were shouting “yeah!!!” It is not midterm break. i was out preaching for most of today and even when I got back beyond the time I intended, I could not stop going to see the young men of the congregation play football on the grounds or Radio Rivers. You know, I have become used to football being played on the hard surface or grass-less fields in Lagos that I forgot that fields should have grass.

…but as you already know, I retired and started ‘coaching’. I now realize that maybe football has so changed that I need a less active role like Director of Football. Imagine that the posts they used was a used tyre and if the ball touches any part of it, it was a goal.

They preferred to play on the sandy part and left the grassy part, but it was a delight to watch and the standout player was Goodnews. I now know why he was scouted, but you can privately ask me why he turned that opportunity down.

I was in the middle of an entertaining match when I WAS PRANKED.

I got a call from a number that was not on my contact list and the Trucaller app could not detect. I answered the way one answers a call from a strange number. Whoever owned the voice spoke exceptional professional English, and sounded very official and confident. It was like an interview and I did not have even ten seconds to think. She was calling and was the one saying that she wanted to confirm who it was. I  was confused and trying to place the voice was futile. I did not know which name to mention because she said we are going live in seconds…what should I think?  I just watched a fantastic movie yesterday called Cooked Up Love and in it, I could remember how not being conscious of being on air could be embarrassing. I was on the grounds of a radio station and I wondered what else was possible…then there was the countdown that made adrenaline surge….”we are live in 4…3…2…1….you are live now, say hello to the house” hei! Which house again oh, shey I think I am smart, they have finally caught me, I reasoned.

At once, I heard many voices on the background, from the dead silence of before. I have been to media stations, I have been interviewed, it must be one of those media houses, it is only possible there. Who sent my number, what did they want from me? Why will a friend want to surprise me in a way that will make my BP rise? What is this show about?

“Okay, you will pay attention and when someone speak, you tell the house whose voice you heard” my heart was still beating. I know 1 million people, how can I tell their voices apart? I tried to relax the beating heart. Ah…it was not one voice, they all tried to talk at the same time. The chaos cannot be radio, or is it,

“So whose voice is that?”

“What is going on please…you are confusing me…” laughter….no way, it cannot be radio. They must be people I know. Then they tried talking again…I picked one voice…Oh these people nearly killed me: “wait, wait, wait…that was Itunu….only one person can fool me with this radio thing…Amarachi…how come it did not sound like your voice…that is Tina…its Seun…Banjo…Akinola…the Voice I do not Know…” we spoke and spoke, and laughed and laughed. They had finally outsmarted me, but I soon found my footing. Half an our passed and we were all still talking. After yesterday, I really needed this kind of spice to life but I could not even imagine it being possible. I was so happy. Admitting it meant that I was actually more than happy.

Ezra had a talk today, but them coming around at my apartment in the evening did not seem to correlate. Planning and pulling the stunt in minutes is what still baffles me. one never knows what to expect from Eko…because I was pranked by EKOes FM(not Eko FM). They totally made my day.

I went back to the football still thinking of the prank. I realized that what Lagos has for me is deeper than I thought, I will break her heart if and when I leave her. I started feeling really sorry. What should I tell her to console her? I am thinking of “my Cici Eko, dont worry…” let me not say it now so that our happiness remains intact.

I did not even remember to tell you about  the exciting field service(I meant preaching, get used to it) with Saviour and Laura and then Savior and Puregold. Puregold kept making a pretentious face all through, but do not worry, she loves acting.

Saviour has a unique story….wait, you are still listening. Go and sleep. You like story sha…

SAT 9

” There is no freedom in just being free” -Me, in SS3

We are having our Christian meetings today, not tomorrow. There is a training at the Kingdom Hall. In fact, next week it will be on Thursday, and Thursday meetings held on Monday. You would have expected me to be out in service, I meant preaching. I intended to, despite the rush of negative emotions late last night. I ended up not going because something equally upsetting was learnt this morning.

I studied the Watchtower for today early on, and hence my quote on freedom because that was what the article was about. It confirmed as true my saying about the so-called freedom of the world today. It pains me that Adam and Eve sinned, and the most devastating effect of that sin is our slavery to death.

Last night, a colleague and friend called. I had spoken with him earlier on. He had been in the hospital for two days because his 2 and a half year old daughter was sick and unconscious. I was very worried. She died last night. It is the second baby of a colleague that have died in six months. That one in Lagos virtually died at our presence. I was also worried when he had fallen, sustained head injuries internally and became unconscious. The brain surgery, intensive care and millions of Naira spent was not enough. I felt it to my bone and he was one of the most beautiful boys I have seen.

That I love children is a fact. Some friends once joked that the only trap that could catch me is one that has a child as a bait. Their death hurt me deeply. Another thing that hurts almost at the same level is child abuse or molestation. The emotional trauma can last for a lifetime and it could lead to a mental disorder and even a longing to be abused. I keep wondering why people do it. Any of these things can really break my strong heart and get me very close to tears. So, when I get news about any of these last night and this morning, my head churns.

About the death of these kids, in both cases, the word “unconscious” haunts me. The greatest personal tragedy that we have faced is the death of my elder brother in 2006. It changed everything and our lives have never remained the same. I did not cry even when I was closest to him. They said I should but I could not. I am mentally very strong but feel the pain for long. He had an accident, was unconscious, sustained head injuries internally and died at the hospital gate. Any time I hear of someone having an accident and having a head injury that makes him unconscious, it triggers fear. I start praying that it should not be like my brother. It brings back memories of how I lost him, hours after speaking with him. The resurrection hope soothes.

I am so sorry for the loss of my colleague’s daughter, and she bore what used to be my favorite Igbo name, Chidinma. It is just so sad.

Too much negative emotions this week have prevented me from telling you a lot of beautiful things like waking up to see Tobi’s beautiful message this morning. He insists I am the inspiration behind his beautiful writing path. Tobi writes more than I do, in quality and quantity, but he will keep arguing that. You should check out his Facebook page for more. He is Tobi Salami.

I suppose I told you about Mfoniso, my first non-biological daughter and one of the first and most devoted fan of my pen. Those short pieces she churned out still surprises me. Ask her now, and she will still claim that I influenced her writing.

Toiyo Benjamin. That young man is good with the pen…or is it the keyboard? He is the first Guest writer here and absolutely the Block behind this Blog. His reviews two days ago is what is making this simpler journal page possible. In fact, he is the one to be credited for this journal. The only thing I will keep owing him is one story, The Misunderstood I have abandoned in over ten years and he keeps asking me of it. Maybe he too will say I influenced his writing…these young people should let me rest and stop making my head swell.

What about you? I will not be surprise if you start writing something…maybe A, B, C, D…and then say that I inspired you.

I should not be talking to you because I am very upset with you. I have been indoors for a couple of days and you don’t care. Fine, today I had calls from my brothers and a couple of people but they were from Eko mostly, I am beginning to think that she cares more than you do.

Yesterday and today, outside stepping out to use the ATM and attending meetings, I will just lock myself inside, upstairs. Don’t you know that in some countries neighbors will call 911? But is is OK, just that I am telling you: oh care! Especially today that my mind was just flooded with heavy burdens and my heart was heavy…wait? Which one is mind and which one is heart? Is it brain and heart? Where is the mind located?

Anyways, I was not too worried about the sadness not having power until the evening because of Christian meetings, they are always refreshing. So I went for meetings but we had to wait downstairs for attendees of the KM School to vacate after the school. We waited with the other congregation using the down hall. As soon as I walked in, Evergreen(Ezinne) beckoned on my to sit with their family, Puregold added her voice…that is when I know that Jehovah God reads more than my heart, he reads this daily log, Hello Today!

The little ones made me promise that when we go upstairs, I will still sit with them. They did not know that that was exactly what I needed. If something that involves children is the source of my heartache, then something that involves children will soothe me. I sat with them, and it was Evergreen’s turn to follow up discussions at meetings with my iPad. We had a swell time during an interesting meetings where she tried all through to comment, nearly gave up and ended up giving the last comment and she was beaming with smiles and giving me hi-five.

After meetings, she said she wanted to see the picture of my “non-biological daughter” a term she saw on my journal. For me, the whole relief thing was like…. “I’m gonna take this moment…and make it evergreen”….

I think you have heard enough for today, but I cancelled a dinner tomorrow and also got an invite at the same time tomorrow. I had a wild thought when I was on my way back from meetings and almost instantly, what I was thinking about happened, and happened again. Remind me to tell you tomorrow. If you like, forget.

I am a bit hungry, let me fix supper…

wait…did I hear you hiss? See this man o…or are you woman sef? Did you expect eba and afang soup this night? Please, have you not heard that we should eat breakfast like a king and supper as a beggar? Oya take one slice of cocumber and two seeds of groundnut. See you tomorrow.

FRI 8

” The mad man is not always ashamed, but members of his household are” -an Ibibio saying

Let us talk about image today. I could remember when I won one national essay prize, with my speeches and interview and all, I was very popular. I had won a computer set and it was heavy. After the presentation by I think the German vice ambassador to Nigeria at that time, I saw a lot of people rush to the platform to help me with the awards. The MC exclaimed: “they say that success has many siblings!” Well, if success has many siblings, the siblings of shame disowns her.

There is this thing about shame that it finds you, no matter how clean you are…I mean the shame of others. They say a good name is very valuable, that is true, but many times, it is the actions of others that soils a good name, even slightly. I used to jealously guard my reputation when I was younger, not just by living my life but by trying to prevent the actions of others from getting to it. It was a futile attempt. the good thing is that the smear by the actions of others you are not responsible for gradually wipe off.

I spent most of today with you and for you. At first I bothered about a little trouble, but eventually I got my mind slightly off it. You see, sometimes, people think that maintaining a strong sense of right is actually wrong.

I try to be flexible, but often after stating the fact. For instance, at the bank, an elderly woman was struggling with the ATM and I was behind her. She asked for my help but I called on the security personnel stating that it was “wrong” for me to peep into what she was doing on the machine. Legally, it is wrong. he security personnel was too busy and declined. The woman tried and called on me the second time. She could not see clearly. I went to assist from a distance. She was with her equally elderly husband….and I realized they were in the same Kingdom Hall as I was. i had a little conversation with the husband.

I heard a sad news today, this evening. I cannot say it out. I had felt the fear from two days ago. Please, good night.

THU 7

” …the things I feel are stronger…” -Me, in a conversation today

Everyone has “feelings” but many times we think it only means romantic feelings or emotions. For me, when I say “the things I feel”, I often refer to beliefs, mostly in people and their abilities or capabilities. I am a very stubborn believer in people.

Well, sometimes too, I may refer to situations and decisions. There are times that I may not have very solid defense, but feel those things. Truth is, my life has crossed the path of many other people, and very few of them can be called a fleeting phase. I try to learn from everyone, and by learning, I include learning to run away from some people.

There have been times when what I “feel” seem to be in conflict with what seems realistic, at those times, I let my feelings win. This is different from holding on to a dead end. I am sometimes very cautious and skeptical, so there must always be a reason that makes me have that feeling, a reason I cannot explain at the moment.

Today went by again, but unlike yesterday, I found myself doing laundry and never being on the way to work. It was enough time to study too.

I spoke with a lot of people today, Mother inclusive, but I was so happy that my first non-biological daughter had started writing. There were unique short pieces that sounded like poems and were deep in meaning. I am so proud. Like father, like daughter huh?

Today was Christian meetings and I was there on time. Initially I thought I would go with an umbrella, but it became sunny and the evening was like just another typical recent evening. It is an era that rainy and dry seasons do not seem to be distinct and plastic is the new algae.

Meetings were very nice and I did learn a lot. Let me give you something to think. Why did Jesus always command the demons to keep shut when they declared that he was the Christ? What may have accounted for the seeming disparity in the account of John and the other Gospels as per the time or “hour” of Jesus’ execution? And why is it safe to say that the Long and Short Conclusions to Mark were not inspired, even when some Bible translations add them? Aha….oya start to answer.

When I sensed the strong winds after meetings, I hurried home, but rain started just as I stepped out. It did not allow me fraternize with a friend from my Enugu sojourn I met. The thing that scared about the rain was not getting wet, but being able to get to the house before the street floods. Let me explain.

I am not living in a bush, but a place near an industrial area. I term it a “mid-brow” area with pretty houses and ‘batchers’ that still creep in, and very lovely major roads, yet terrible streets. I live (here) a stone throw from a major road that glitters at night. The company that constructed the run hung the road ‘above building level’ meaning that they made normal buildings look like undergrounds.  The result is that the floodwaters move to the adjoining streets when it rains heavily.

I heard that before the street made remedial works, when it rains, people either stay indoors or ‘swim’ and it could take a whole day for the water to subside. With the remedial works done, when a very heavy rain falls, the water at the entrance of the street could be between the ankle and the knee and takes 30 minutes after the rain stops to dry off. I was always fortunate not to experience the floodwaters. Once, I called my colleague to drive the truck across the  water, ppick me up and cross over…I felt like a Noah in an Ark! At another time, I just waited for about an hour. I cannot enter dirty water!!!

Today though, it was night and my colleague was away, and the rain was the type that should make one curl up in the bed. I hurried to get a keke home, but there was stagnant traffic and I was worried. I started thinking of what would happen if the rain fail for several hours. I would have to wait before the flooded portion and seeing the dry part and the house just ahead…like Moses before the Red Sea.

Well, I finally got to my street and the rain was not even enough to cause an inch of flood. It was more of wind and I was not bothered about being slightly drenched and forgetting the umbrella. The only disappointing thing is that with such winds and rain, there was no power. I hoped that nothing got damaged and hamper the constant power always had here.

I went straight to bed….of course I did not sleep until midnight.

WED 6

” We have to learn to make excuses for people in situations we do not fully understand, problems are less that way…” -my brother, Ezra

There will always be problems as far as we live in this wicked world. We run away from them, they chase us. We chase them, they challenge us. Problems are inevitable, but the way they pop up annoys and even scares. You know I am talking about yesterday right? It got more complex, but do not worry.

The way problems are solved are often confusing. There will be people that could be pivotal that could not be reached. Others could be reached and do not respond further. The thing to do is remain calm. A lot of things will creep into our minds…but when it comes to people, please make excuses for them.

It is not just about problems but life generally. What if there is something important and we could not reach people we want to contact? Information expires and it can really be unsettling not to pass some at a particular time. Even in these situations, make excuses for people.

I have many types of friends. There is one that hardly answer calls or return calls. What excuses can be made in such situations? I do not really believe in this attitude of saying “it is his/her life” so the excuses I make are: cooking, eating or not the right time, and it is almost always the case. In fact, some people say that I too, do not answer calls sometimes.

So, today went on well but slowly. There were lots of calls to make and receive, at least two of those lasting an hour each. A friend thinks I should open an office and offer counsel in them, but that is very flattering. We need each other and nothing may be as good as a good suggestion, the fact that someone or people are putting heads together with you to solve a problem.

I remember getting dressed late this morning to go to work. It was an unusual dressing for site because I wore a white starched shirt.

I remember doing the dishes this evening. And I had the earpiece in my ear and the phone in my pocket. My brother was calling and people say I am someone that multitasks.

TUE 5

” I used to play tough like I can do all this on my own…” -The song, Helium by Sia

We all need help, some help, no matter how self-reliant we are. I do need help too and gone are the days that even in a small bit I will try to do things solely on my own. I was raised up really independent, but maybe I grew up to become too independent and almost perfectionist. I think life became more complex as years went by, but I had already learnt to seek help sometimes.

Mother may have helped a bit because she kept complaining that I “don’t tell people things”. It really worried her even when I tried my best to solve them. The only thing she complained more about was the way I squeeze my face when in deep thought, she said it will cause wrinkles and make me old faster.

So, why did I listen to mum on the problem sharing thing? Maybe because even if I do not show it, she is one of those very few people that I listen to. Maybe a couple things happened in my young life that made me realize how helpless and powerless I could be in some instances, and thus I need to rely on others. Maybe I tried it out a bit and saw what relief it could bring. Whatever it was, I realized that over the years I seemed to have built up a team that I could call on for advise or assistance in different aspects of life.

I also find myself sampling opinions and not panicking. Sometimes, I have an idea about what I want to do, yet I still ask a range of people what they think and I compare ideas and decide. Life is easier that way.

Well, I played a lot of music today and when it got to Sia’s Helium, I pondered. My brother calls Sia “that girl that screams”, she has a voice that sounds like a metal that is struck, something between very fun and annoying, but it is unique. Helium is my song, anytime. Though it could be applied to all situations that someone needs help, I first told my sister-in-law how the song applies to her when she talked about my brother’s appreciated assistance in taking care of the kids and all.

“…even a superwoman needs a superman’s soul…” the song says. Truth is, I am not a feminist, but I have always been in support of equal opportunities. I do not believe women are inferior or should be treated as such. I have always liked a “Miss Independent”, a encourage a lady with that drive, but then, like every other person, even such a superwoman needs help. One of the most soothing things that we all need is love…love is like Helium…I am talking about love, not romantic love, per se.

I will not tell you much about today because there is little to say. I had to push aside pride and ask for something, I had to push away convenience and stretch a hand, I had to put away sleep to solve a problem.

Talking about problems, one popped up today and kept me awake. I seem to be a pretty good strategist, I am not. I am not praising myself like the lizard did, but I am always thinking, looking at scenarios and possibilities, they help me to plan. Maybe another thing I find myself doing is being tough. I tend to follow the law to the letter. I see you getting scared, but not to worry, time solves all puzzles.

Tomorrow is already here.

MON 4

” I do all I can and leave the rest, there is no puzzle that time cannot solve…” -Me

Every day offers a new challenge, but we cannot totally rule out the happenings of yesterday from the experiences of today. Memories make and unmake us.

Having completed what he came for yesterday, my HOD left for Lagos this morning, in fact he was the one that woke me up.

It seems I started hearing this when I was somewhat grown, but “how was your night?” was not that much of a greeting when I was younger. I am saying this before you ask me, because I suppose I was asleep and could hardly know how it was. Maybe you should ask me if I woke up well or ‘on the wrong side of the bed’. Humans…they have to show off to all creatures that they are the only ones with the gift of language!

I told you days ago of expecting yet another review from someone, I got it this morning and to my shock, it was positive. I have been someone keen on rational minds and I always recognize one even after a brief interaction. It really spiced up my morning, this verdict.

So I was at work but was not worked out. Work today was very simple and almost boring. I even had some time to go and get my ATM from GTBank. You see, everyone makes me feel GTB and I were made for each other. Too many times, people seem shocked that I do not have their account. I was actually pressured into it by a marketer, nothing much, after all it took me nothing to open it, my sixth account. Ask my how much are in the accounts, almosts nothing.

One is dormant and 4 are there for emergency recharge cards using their mobile Apps. There is even one that annoys me, Skye. I cannot touch the 2,000 Naira that is in it. That is the minimum balance.

I spoke with Tboy and mum this evening. Mum was talking about us being raised independent. She was right, we were raised “very nuclear” and always finding strength within. We were raised close-knit, but never expecting anything from anyone.What mum did not know is that I knew all the while.

I slept early, like 10.30pm. I will be up before 5am.

SUN 3

” The hero lies in you…” -From a popular song by Whitney Houston

 Today is Sunday and you know that I will be busy with religious activities. It should be of interest to you that some 80% of my preparation for these activities are always on my iPad, so I was glad that it was finally coming up. It was however surprising that some functions that seemed lost after it was submerged in water for several hours a year ago seemed to have returned: the auto-rotation, front camera and even the sleep key! It was a miracle! 

I went out for Christian meetings on time, and it was very interesting. I really liked the Watchtower study on discipline. I mean the forms of discipline was analysed. You know, I always take an interest in things that involve rearing children. Though you often disagree with me, I have four non-biological daughters and whatever will contribute to my ‘bringing them up’ properly will be of help.

Talking about the ancient times, Noah is commended for bringing up his sons in a good way despite living an a very ungodly world, and these made good choices as to wives. It was likely not always easy for Noah. There may have been a time that those kids tried to, or desired to imitate the violent giants, after all, these  were “men of fame” or the ones we call celebrities these days. Kids love display of power, they adore superheroes, so Noah had to fight hard to counter these influences. “He did just so”.

Well, I believe that we could use the same “counter” method to raise our children in this wicked world. We will struggle with many things, from the violent and immoral environment, to the media. It is not just enough to warn them, but we need to counter it with positive influences.

I was out in service and from all indications, Puregold wanted to walk with me. Coincidentally, we were to preach one territory which we preached the first time I was out in service in my first Garden City sojourn. Guess whom I was walking with then: Puregold! She remembered that today, in fact she reminded me.

Rain fell and disrupted our intention to preach, but we went ahead to teach as soon as it stopped. With us with a pioneer sister, mother of someone in the congregation that has my official surname as a first name. It was en enjoyable time and despite three of us hoping to close three hours apart, we stayed beyond the longest intended closing time.

Puregold did cause a stir with her name in homes of individuals that we visited, but it was her remarkable resilience that impressed me.She was with us to almost 5pm and did not want us to take her home any sooner than we closed. I have known her for her strength which she uses to pull and shove at meetings when I least expect, but this was a better way of putting it to use. I owe her something, I mean it.

We had fun times too on the way, with the pioneer sister having no option but to laugh. I carried my large umbrella and she was unwilling to help out. She wore gold and purple, something I observed was for royalty in ancient times. She agreed that she was like a princess and I was holding the umbrella for her like a servant. I told her that passersby sometimes seek gifts from princesses, what will she tell them if they stopped to ask for gifts? She replied:”I will tell them to ask my servant because he is supposed to hold my bag for me”.

I had an appointment with Oscar Udofia by 5pm, and I called to pass the information that I will be 5 minutes late. Now, Oscar is a baby in the congregation and we were meant to have dinner together or as guys do, discuss over a drink. Now, do not get me wrong, he may be drinking milk while I drink a beer.

It was my first time visiting them and Oscar is a few months old. They are Lagosians by birth and being raised (we Lagosians don’t mind state of origin of parents) and we did share the things we miss about Eko. They did not seem satisfied with my partial amala initiation. It seemed totally unacceptable that my amala experience had been in Lekki where very likely processed amala is what I had. One Whitehouse in Yaba was recommended. I was advised to have a lunch there because they used to make the best amala in the world, maybe. I will try it.

I had a lovely time and learnt the meaning of Oscar. It means “dear friend” or “Jah’s spear”. I was curious and wanted to know the circumstances surrounding him being given the name. Oscar was indeed a miracle baby.

I spoke with my best friend too, all the way from somewhere and there was added proof why he has been in that position for this long. We had a tough discussion and we often have tough discussions about many things. We can both speak to ourselves in an entire day and there will still be something to say. He is fine, but you will not believe it, he is very humble despite being a realist.

It could be easy to say these about a friend you know so well about. There are those that you do not and many times, you are on the border between letting go and hanging on, between feeling your efforts are a burden and feeling guilty for not trying hard enough. Belief seems to be the strongest force in my heart during these times. I have this strong believe in people I have known and I do not seem to relent until I get these personalities off them.

SAT 2

” A problem shared is halve-solved” -A popular saying

I woke up very tired today, almost broken. I should blame the standing and walking on site for the past week for it. It was however not the pains that was the problem this morning, although it made me lazy to go out preaching and doing something for a work for my HOD made going out not feasible.

I needed to do something for someone as soon as I woke up, it was meant to be last night but I was too tired and went to bed. I wanted to send it this morning before he wakes up and reminds me, so I reached for my iPad on the table and pressed the home key…there was a flicker and nothing came up. I knew that I left it at about 50%. I tried to power it, but to no avail. Many thoughts entered into my mind, but one that stuck was from my best friend. He had warned: DON’T GIVE A REPAIRER AN iPAD TO FIX, THEY DO NOT HAVE THE TOOLS OR TECHNICALITY.

It was only the second time in four years the iPad has ‘developed faults’ and at both times, I have been in The Garden City. On the first occasion, I mistakenly slept on it it it got a pinkish display that could become worse, but all functions were intact. A repairer I complained to said the screen needs replacement. I went online and I was told to either drop it from a specific height or smack it. Of course I went for the later option and it worked.

I thought of going online, but I sampled opinions as charging it did not seem to solve the problem and it was not responding to the power button. I left it and went to visit a site. We ended up spending all day there, mostly standing.

The place was a gas plant under construction and had so many nationalities mixed up. It also had not just security, but a lot of protocols. It is a massive place, but today, being there for the first time, I was so bored. Network was also poor.

Back at home by almost 8pm(the place is far away), I reached out for the iPad again. Those boring hours had given me the opportunity to check up the solution to the iPad issue online, and the first phrase was “do not panic, there is nothing wrong with your iPad”. I tried just the first solution and it worked. The explanation was that the battery was drained to the empty of empty.

I am tired again. Sleep is calling.

FRI 1

” Many people are important, few are valuable, but very few are Precious” -Me

I got a call from someone today, someone I referred to as Gla-mum, a combination of glamour and motherhood. You see, over the years, she has not only been a great friend, but a big fan of the things I write. It was a call for a duration between a quarter of an hour and a quarter of two hours.

You see, that one time in a long while that we communicate, I will always pull her legs about motherhood. I know that she is doing great, but she said it is “only fun when seen from a viewer’s perspective”. It is tasking, very tasking. I laughed, because she is saying this after “only” two lovely kids. One is named after a great Jewish king, and another has a name that shines like a diadem. Those kids are adorable, and she is Precious. I even have a pending dinner reminder. I missed the dinner the last time, but I hope I will be able to make time for it this time. You don’t keep an entire family with two kids between 1 and 0 waiting.

The only sad thing about the call was hearing that Gla-mum lost an older friend who died of cancer of the uterus. How on earth was that to be quickly diagnosed?

Today was a stressful day. I got a call from my HOD that he had an emergency work on a site in the Garden City and was on his way to the airport that 6am. I had to arrange for the truck to take him there, so I opted for public transportation to site. It was a one-off thing, but it happened nonetheless.

There was an aspect of work I needed to be completed today and I tried to ensure that it is. There is this thing about me and tasks, if I put my mind on them, I think of very few other things until I get them done.

Something funny happened. There was an item I needed to purchase for work to proceed. I had enough money in my wallet to take care of it, but just little will be left if I did. I wanted to stop first at the ATM, but it was needed urgently. I took the risk. When at the point of purchase, I got a call that something else was needed. I had no money to buy it, neither did I have my iPad for a transfer. Luckily, I had a little money in another account whose mobile app was on my phone. So I partly paid with almost all the cash on me, and completed payment via electronic transfer. I was left with almost no money. Where I grow up, it was almost said one should have enough money to take care of “the oil that you may mistakenly pour”. This refers to accidentally throwing off the wares of a vendor.

Well, I had to go to the bank eventually. There was a long queue at the ATM and I was the last person at that moment, and only one machine was dispensing cash. I expected many people to come and ask: “are you the last person?” and say that they are behind me, while trying out the dormant ATM to see if they will get lucky with one. The first person that came did exactly that, but my reply surprised her.

“Are you the last person?”

“Nice hairstyle “

“What did you say?”

“Your hairstyle is nice”

She never expected it and kept laughing. Then said she was behind me, and laughed again. Then said she was here asking me questions “about money” and I was talking about hair. She laughed again and told me “thank you” and laughed some more…wait…she is not the one on the picture above, please. I just used it as a demo.

What I said was not funny. I love good braid and when something is lovely, I complement it ‘without fear or favour’. Some people are often surprised by this and think there is something more to it. The the young lady who keep looking my way and likely wondering what kind of person I was. At a time, she suggested I move away from the sun. I was busy thinking how long I will keep waiting as two people nearly fought truing to use the ATM. Fortunately, before I could get money, another machine started working. When I was through, I walked up to her to affirm something. I told her: NICE HAIR! And walked away. She laughed some more, and replied with a “you too, nice dress”. I know that she will still keep thinking. The hairstyle was unique and if no one had complimented it, I would do it, for everyone.

I got back from work tired, but I achieved my target for the day. I got a message from Lagos on the possibility of my being around between 11 and 13 of this month. I do not know what this is about, but I wish it were 19th to 23rd.

 

MAY 2018

PERSONALITY OF THE MONTH

MABEL SOLOMON: THE ONE I CALL “MY LAWYER”

I have had an ‘abstract’ best friend between early April and early May and I thought she will snap this Personality of the Month trophy. She did not, and I feel a bit bad about it. Despite this, that “Big Girl” is worthy of being mentioned because she introduced me to this young person with so much promise, this person I call My Lawyer. This ‘abstract’ friend of mine is called Toe, for short. Do not ask me if she is Japanese.

I hardly like someone I meet or hear of for the first time and I am very choosy with people, almost biased in my choice of friends, but this one…there was a connection from the word go. There were many things not said but said all the same, a kind of mental communication. So she did not impress me with a display of intellect or an exhibition of knowledge, but she impressed me with promise, prospects and a hope for the future. A life wrapped between being too outwardly shy and being too inwardly bold, but masked behind someone else’s shadow until the sun breaks free from morning clouds. I think the shadow part struck me because it reminded me a bit of growing up, and I have recently been very keen on a reflection of any aspect of what I thought I experienced.

You may not know or admit it, but she did save me from ‘many a chain’ this May that I sometimes think of calling her my May-bail. Did you even hear the sound of this month? It sounds like her name. It is thus the second time in two years that this 5th month would have a personality with a name sounding like the month. I even used her favorite colour to caption this.

The thing is, there are too many negative forces we struggle with. If we find it difficult to cope, how about our young ones? It is sometimes not enough to warn and instruct, sometimes, we need to balance these up with counter positive influences and make them feel important, because they really are. Spice up their lives, see them smile and you too will be happy. Life is a delicacy that is best enjoyed when shared. Only the right measure of doting is required so be careful not to dish out too little or too much and help them build up their spirituality and they will be fine.

Like she agreed, she is already a lawyer, because she defends me out of trouble. She is a solicitor because she disturbs her older sister into getting what she wants. She is a Senior Advocate, being in senior secondary and advocating for God’s kingdom, among other things. I know you will ask if she is called to bar, she is, called to a bar of chocolate!

Please leave My Lawyer alone. May the court rise…

THU 31

“They said I should tell no one, they said I should remain silent…I did, until I forgot how to speak”- The movie, Ovy’s Voice

When I had written “see you tomorrow” yesterday, I did not sleep until the tomorrow of yesterday, which is today. That I sleep mostly near midnight is a norm you know, but yesterday, it was beyond it, and I am sorry.

My brother in Eko sent a video of one game during the congregation picnic on Tuesday and it made me feel Cici Eko may have moved on without me. Let me tell you one thing about relationships that you do not understand. When someone says “I have moved on”, he probably has not. one will feel that he can easily do without the other, but when away, even that little attention is longed for.

I had an okay day at work, and a fantastic day at meetings. It was however news about someone I know that made a movie that kept me up until this morning flood my mind with thoughts. The movie called Ovy’s Voice got me curios. I knew it was about some sort of disability and I wanted to know how Nollywood will get it right. They totally did. It was the 99% rating that made me curious, and my emotions were stirred in the end.

Child abuse is terrible because of the psychological effects it has on people, child sexual abuse in articular. It often introduces a mental condition. Many abuse victims that seem normal  have mental or social complexes.

Please, let me not talk about this anymore. It pains me and shames me…this our civilized wild.

Though these thoughts persisted, I will not allow it to dominate a very beautiful today. I made the call that I was meant to make yesterday and the call for half an hour spiced up my morning. I have hardly met someone that enthusiastic over the phone.

Okay, I have been gathering reviews from critical minds on my blog. I was talking to someone about it when a colleague said she knew of someone who fitted into the category.  She happens to be a young who is a software developer and someone with one of the strangest choice of books. I hope I told you earlier that one key person in my team is yet another young woman with the strangest choice of movies…what about me? Maybe I have the strangest choice of team members.

Christian meetings were lovely too. Though we watched one of my best animation videos(on boldness), there is one thing that stuck in Today’s meeting: the lessons from Jesus telling his disciples to let down the net and they got an overwhelmed by the numbers.

These 4 disciples abandoned him and went back to their fishing business. That day, they had no catch as at the time he met them. They had ;’toiled since morning’.  At Jesus’ command though, something happened. Read Psalm 127:2 for the lesson.

WED 30

“Love is a product of time, affection and attention”- Me

Days ago, I talked about one phrase that people find hard to say, yet that means so much if the person really mean what he says. The phrase “I love you” is one phrase in those ‘said and not meant’ category. Unlike “I am sorry”, “I love you” is readily said and hardly meant.

Sometimes, I refer to “love” as “that which is called love” because it is one of the most abused and misused words. Many people who feign love do not mean it. Too many things are said, sung and written about it; too many things are done for it…and I am tired, I refuse to associate myself with what the mainstream calls love. What is true love?

I however think that no matter what it is, it is a product of time, attention and affection. And you? Love many things if you can…people, children, yourself, life.

We had someone around today, a colleague from Eko. It was amazing to have him because he is one of my best pals at work. Having him for two days will be fun…no, it will be special. You see, he is the one that never let me rest for six months until I set up this blog. He took me through all the steps, from domain name to web hosting to theme…he is almost entirely responsible for everything. He even took time off his busy schedule to do a couple of things on it. He is that good. Let me name him for posterity sake: Hafiz!

Work wanted to be stressful, but it went well. Today was also another sunny day.

Well, something made me really smile while cutting my hair near the house. A lady came to thank a man for the CD plate she had borrowed. Apparently, she had heard the religious messages on it and borrowed it. She was narrating that it was effective, that it made her neighbors murmur, that they were “dying” as if they were being burnt by fire. The content of the message was about ‘God killing all the enemies who are against the individual’. And they talked about the said pastor being ‘falsely accused’ of not ‘preaching vengeance’, that even ‘God kills’. I wanted to talk, but then the clipper shut my mouth, I just smiled.

Hafiz helped me out with a couple of things on the blog and that fixed us on a spot for a while it meant I missed making a call to someone to someone, when I remembered, it was too late and I was too tired.

See you tomorrow.

TUE 29

“The child that always stay away from the house will miss the best part of the meal”- Me

I am not happy with Cici today, yes I am upset with Cici Eko. Why will she wait until I was away before she organizes a picnic of fun and games. I am thinking that there was Scrabble board game, and she knows how much I love Scrabble.

Today was the congregation outing in Eko, being a public holiday. I heard of it, but never imagined it would be so much fun. Early on, some three young persons in the congregation chatted me up at different times. They were asking why I was still not yet back and stating that I would miss the fun. I waved it off. I thought it would be the usual playing of football in Unilag, with me watching on, but it was more than that.

My brother in Eko called to tell me that I was missing “too much”; if he said that, it means I was missing “toooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much”. There were all sorts of games, he said. In fact, he hung the fun on me twice, saying he will call me back. he acted as if I was interrupting his fun, “…please I am eating, I will call you back sha…” and he has not, not even by this 11pm.

Well, it was when talking to a friend and mentioning it this evening that I remembered that I had a dinner today and I had not even recalled it. I was so angry with myself because I have broken a promise I made to a child. I called to reschedule but I still felt terrible.

What was I even discussing with my friend? the English Royal Wedding, the Nigerian looting  and England vs Nigeria football match this weekend. He said he will go and watch it in Wembley stadium for 60 pound sterling. “Convert it to Naira” I said. I was doing my calculations mentally and two pairs of Clark’s shoes was floating with the figures. I wanted to say “what a waste” but the words could not come out, because people think that if there is someone capable of doing any of these “funny things”, I am the one.

This morning started on a more pleasant note. A lot of messages and correspondences especially from one funny friend in the UAE (what you people fallaciously generalize as “Dubai”). He is a thorough online person that leaves the last messages all the time and could make one laugh during his analysis. He was talking about the Love-Tennis analogy on this blog. He never knew that from the start, I have always been a “love counselor”.

Then I had something to write for a friend, and later on, another thing to write for another friend. It was really a ‘write-ful’ day.

Today was supposed to be Democracy Day in Nigeria, and it meant I did not go to work but stayed at home all through. I knew that My Lawyer will not be at school and when her ‘secretary’ confirmed that she was free, I talked to her over the phone. Do not ask me what school I was referring to. Can it not be a law school?

I had the opportunity to thank her for freeing me, but she warned that I should stay out of trouble and that she will only rescue me unless someone looked for my trouble first. I will try and remember this.

The day came along pretty fast and I wished that I could be in both cities. I miss Cici Eko, at least this once, but please do not tell her.

MON 28

“There is one way to say that you are sorry, but many ways to show it”- Me

I hear that “I am sorry are magical words” but I think that they are toxic in the mouth of those who say it without meaning it.

Why will I wake up this morning talking about being sorry? It appears that the last message I received yesterday was an apology from someone who did not need to apologize, so I slept with a “sorry” and maybe dreamt about it.

I hear that it is very difficult to apologize. I wonder why it is because I AM SORRY is a mere 3 words, and it could even be shortened to two: I’M SORRY. These could be said in two seconds. You may tag me an apologetic, but I am not, I find it almost impossible to take blames that are pushed on me by others, but take full responsibilities for my blunders.

So, contrary to what people think, it is very easy to say “I am sorry” but very difficult to mean it. That is why we hear things like “oya sorry na”, “sebi I have told you sorry”, many people that say they are sorry do not mean it, and others are coerced to do so and yet others who may not say they are sorry show that they are.

There are many ways of showing you are sorry and it is often more cute than merely saying it. Many people who try to show that they are sorry are often those who take responsibility for their actions.

I was indeed sorry this morning. I knew that the surprise power outage for the whole of yesterday made me send my reports this morning. I knew that when working here, we leave late on Mondays as the meetings held by client on Mondays almost always means that work only starts by about 10am. A simple call would have made someone not abandon everything for work and there was I on the computer, having not even taken a bath. I was sorry, so I showed it and said it.

The meetings they had today seemed prolonged, so it was even good we arrived LATEr as we still had to wait. Work started shortly afterwards and we were all good.

Work went well, so well that I nearly forgot lunch and we opted for the trademark roast plantain(boli), roast yam and roast fish with pepper sauce. I missed this delicacy when with Eko. She serves her boli with friend groundnuts and calls me greedy when I suggest it should go with fish or chicken. If ‘the way to a man’s heart is only through the stomach, then I would have ditched Cici Eko for Miss Garden a long time ago.

The last time I was with Garden over a year ago, the boli and fish was my usual lunch that will make me drink a lot of water and have just fruits for dinner. There was this lady opposite the site that sold the food. On my first day of visiting site, our safety officer said he wanted to buy me lunch. I had not totally shaded off my rest-tour-rant idea so when he was taking me to that makeshift place, I wanted to politely decline. I however remembered that it was rude to reject well-intended gifts in my culture, so I obliged, reluctantly. When I demanded for a fork as against using my bare hands, the lady made a comment about this ‘oyibo’ came from.

Well, it was a nice meal even when I could not finish it, it was spicy and sizzling. Except on days I wanted a change, I had it every other lunchtime. In fact, I did not give my order, I just went there, sat down and they knew what to give me. Now though, the woman is no more there. I remembered her because what I had today was not near her standard and the meal was not hot.

I went home to watch a match that was played here in this city, but I watched it on TV. It was Nigeria versus Congo DR. It was very boring and ended in a stalemate, one apiece. I cannot continue this story, I’m sorry. Good night.

SUN 27

“The best thing you can give someone is your time, and everyone can”- Me

I had a lot of time this morning: work up early, prepared for meetings, had breakfast, left for meetings, arrived 30 minutes before time, etc. It was a lovely meeting that there was power all through and no sound of the generator.

I would have talked a lot about the Watchtower study on discipline, but I will not. You had attended your own Christian meetings, I suppose, and if you did not, read up the article.

Today was very sunny, very hot. Did I tell you that I got an umbrella here? A very big one, the one they called “Nicon” those days or “family size”. What else did you expect? I am a family man, or are you doubting?

When I was growing up, there was this joke younger-older people told. They will get something from someone, something the person is reluctant to give and say “I will pay you when my first son starts working” and they will merely be teenagers in the houses of their parents. In my own case, I am not like that. I am a proud father of four non-biological daughters and the last one is almost a teenager.

So, with my umbrella, preaching/teaching was fun and I was with someone I have not walked with before, someone whose name sounds like Laurel. Before that however, I had a kid force me to promise when I will be come and have dinner with them. I had to fix it for Tuesday. Then I had an invite for lunch/dinner today from a family I call “my family” here.

I did have dinner with them. It was real fun and I stayed till well past 8pm. I will not tell you what I ate because when I have lunch or dinners with people, it is not always about food, but more about the times we spend, the times we spend talking and sharing experiences.

Sometimes we worry ourselves too much about what to prepare or where to go, but something simple is always enough.

What? Are you thinking of taking me out for dinner? If it is you, it will not be simple. I like nice restaurants with nice food by the seaside and with soft music playing…where servers wear bow ties and white shirts and hold the food as if it is gold…please take me there, I am hungry.

SAT 26

“What is worth doing, is worth doing well”- A popular saying

I may spend half of today in front of the computer, working on something and several things. I do not regret it, especially with the confusion often surrounding the Environmental Saturdays of these parts. I will talk about this later,  but today I got a call from one of my best friends, Aniekan, or as we call him, Abacho. He is about the busiest man on earth and sparing the 15 minutes to call me is a treasure.

You have known me long enough to know him well, and also to know that I have not yet been able to fulfill that promise of meeting him up in Uyo. I really do miss our Enugu times. “Enugu changed everything” I often say.

Today, I missed my Cici Eko, I meant my Lagos City. She is a woman that fights for her rights. When we first met, she was dutifully observing the environmental Saturdays imposed on her by her master even when the federal government had outlawed it. Other states eventually copied but she challenged her master in court and won. Now she is free to go about her business on environmental Saturdays, unrestricted.

Today I spoke with the Surulere relatives and I have a lot of pending promises to keep. They were as lovely as ever. I also spoke to my brother in Eko and someone called Alero. Then I sat a bit more in front of the computer to battle out something and many things.

There was a lot to do and to little time. An entire day was not enough. I only stepped out of the house to Watch the Champion’s League final. It was Liverpool vs Real Madrid, Klopp vs Zidane and Salah vs Ronaldo. My heart was for Liverpool but my mind for Madrid. It took a lot of twists…two keeper howlers, one injury to Salah, an ineffective Ronaldo and two stunning strikes from Bale, who was coming off the bench. I found myself standing up and folding my arms in either surprise or shock after the first, an overhead kick. Wow!!! Madrid did not play well until Salah was injured but they won 3-1 to lift this prestigious trophy for three consecutive times. Incredible!

So I guess I slept in peace after the football. That is what a neutral fan gets: peace. Either way, I would have still enjoyed a good game, giving a shout to goals on either side.

What was I really working on today? I thought you knew…

FRI 25

“Make every second count”- Me

I had a call again from a +44 number yesterday and by mentioning it, you know it is not from a source I know, but it is the third time the guy is contacting me. Well, unlike the former times where I was on the road and too busy to answer, I had time. It was one investment whatever and as far as that is concerned I marked it a ‘Trojan Horse’. I really wondered how he got my details, but in this era of life being lived on the clouds, our details are flying all over the world, accessible to everyone. There is no more privacy from the day we began having “privacy settings”.

Well, unlike known scammers, this was a foreign guy and I am giving the benefit of the doubt to say it may not be a scam, but I am not interested. He spent a quarter of an hour explaining. It is good to have an idea about many things because bitcoin and cryptocurrency were not new terms to me, I told him so. He kept persuading and wanted to call back today so that I could do a free registration and trial. He said he would call by 10am and he did.

I did not answer his call even when I would have loved to, at least it was the polite thing to do. I did not answer him because I told him I will have to consult “my lawyer” and then act on her advise. That she is “responsible for authorizing” any of such investment deals. While you may think that I was joking, I do have someone I call My Lawyer, and her name is Mabel. That is all I am disclosing for security reasons. She may not have been called to bar yet, but she speaks well, so she is an advocate and being in senior secondary, she is a “Senior Advocate” in her own way, and however she did it, used her expertise to free me from Kiri Kiri (don’t bother about what does not concern you).

Well, I was not able to reach her because I mistakenly used a number other than my official number, and for security reasons, her secretary declined the call, so did I decline the +44 call too…so that I may remain truthful, at least. The thing is, we need to guard against every sort of greed because a desire to have more often make us lose everything. That something is profitable or everyone is doing it does not mean that we should do it.

Those that persuade us to join these so-called “investment opportunities” feign that they love us so much and care. The truth is that if there is nothing in there for them, they will not even tell us but secretly make the profits and grow “fat” (see Ezekiel 34:16).

We had a family friend we had not seen for years and we went to visit in Lagos after her marriage. If you live in Lagos you will know that being able to visit someone you know in Lagos is a prized moment as time is rarer than diamond. Every second of that visit was spent in persuading us to join one investment whatever and we kept wondering if we were talking to someone else. These investment schemes affects people like a mental issue.

Today was an intensive day and work went on and on and slightly longer than it should have. What is the most difficult part of my present work? Standing, walking about and thinking. It sounds crazy, but I may stand all day as the work is done and think ahead on how to solve problems that may be encountered. Then I also worry about safety and what needs to be done ahead before a particular task. It sounds easy but it is difficult and you leave at the end of a long day drained, but mostly satisfied.

Today was one of those long days and it was also a cold and wet day.

I spoke to mum, my sister and my brother in Eko. I spoke to a lot more. I am always talking to people, especially you.

THU 24

“Love is a strong force that defies distances”- Me

What is it with me this morning? I was deceived by the weather. I love cold weather, at least I really used to before one Obudu Ranch trip. The Garden City have been so hot that I desired cold and I woke up this morning feeling that the room has become 5 degrees centigrade. I thought ran had fallen, I believed so, but the cold winds were just deceiving me. Well, I think Heaven sent its love all the way so that I could sleep well.

The Iron Lady was around early today and I braced up for an hectic day at work. It was. We even worked slightly beyond the time the client closes as what was on hand could not be dropped. Though we tried to hurry along and I was dropped off at the Kingdom Hall, I was 12 minutes late and did not wear a tie. I had forgotten to take it along in the morning.

Christian meetings were interesting, but I got very distracted during the last part and I was happy to divide my attention because if I did not, the person involved could divide the attention of everyone else. It was Benetia, a four year-old woman. You should remember her from weeks ago.

I was seated in front of them and sometimes I wonder how so much savvy-trouble is packed in one small child and the two older siblings are so docile. I was not ready to offer taking her to my seat to calm things. When her mother and brother both commented, she was repeating what they said into the microphone despite attempts to stop her. Then I heard her say aloud, “mummy, I want to go and seat with this brother…” I froze. She came over and for the remainder of the Christian meetings, I had a trouble to manage.

gone are the days that you give a child a pencil and paper so that she writes on and be so focused on that that she does not disturb. Nowadays, they are too keen on your gadgets…”is this an iPad?” she asked “my daddy also has an iPad”. Then she kept pressing the home key.

“who is that girl with you shown on the screen?”

“it is my cousin”

“let me see it again…your cousin is beautiful”

I opened a notes section on JW library app and she typed while I struggled to look up what was discussed on the other half of the page.

“I know your name” she said “it is Godswill” I smiled. I did  not think she would remember because our first encounter was weeks back and it was brief.

“why are you laughing,” she asked “i am not your friend again…”

i think I have finally met a child that is too hot to handle.  Good night

WED 23

“Sometimes, it takes others for you to realize who you really are”- Me

I  think I have had less sleep these days, maybe I have had sleep-less nights, but not sleepless nights. I could blame calls from some places with a different time zones from ours. Well, Mother used to say that I have “strong eyes” and I thin she meant that I am someone that could do 5 hours a day in 5 months and feel nothing.

Work was meant to start today in earnest and it meant leaving for it very early, I mean not Lagos “early” but earlier than we usually do. Did work have the momentum I expected it to? It was as if it would start with that force and then it dragged. Modification work is the most nonsensical of all engineering works to be done, unexpected problems and obstacles just keeps popping up every now and then. In fact, we had to close early to go and buy materials…no, it was not that easy, we went long distances and sought out rare items that was hardly found. It was tiring and I got home broke and broken.

I am mentioning the broke part because I got a rare call. I will mention that little-girl-turned-little-lady, Emem Udoekong. You know, she is credited with whatever journals and diaries i eventually keep because she asked me to keep the first ever, delta Diaries 1(now stolen). She forced me to as a little girl wanted to get all the details of my 1 year National Service. And Emem…she is practically an Iron Lady, with a will of steel(not wheel of steel) and a determination and persuasion abilities that can crack open a diamond.

So who am I really? i am told you know better than I do. Can we talk this over dinner…say one nice place overlooking a beach or something? The bills will be on me, but please the offer of the dinner part will last until Saturday. let me know on time if you are interested.

TUE 22

“I don’t make friends, I keep them”- Me

I am not a screaming person, but this evening I screamed. I met up with one of my best friends that I have not seen in like 14 years. Well, let me mention his name for posterity sake, Ifiok Nkem.

Ifiok was actually my first best friend and we were in junior secondary together and “always at loggerheads”, or at least we made people feel that way. I know you want to ask about the “first” part in the best friend comment, so I will explain. I have always been biased towards savvy and high level of reasoning. I use to hardly have people who will maintain a conversation with me for 15 minutes because we will have nothing in common to talk about and they will make me uncomfortable because they are listening too much.

In primary school, I had a couple of…well, people I can say came close to being called friends, people that were often tagging behind me in positions. There was one that was consistently smart, Nsikak Nsembo. He also shared a good sense of being aware of the world. I was a read kid, a well-read one, actually. Nsikak was always second and always tagging me. We were cool until towards the end of primary school when (I think) he basked in the euphoria of being a ‘king of the boys’ and disturbed me with many uncool things boys talk about. I ditched him technically and I think he had a decline afterwards because even when he want to another secondary school from the one I initially attended, I never heard of his strides in competitions. Without being gendercist, that decline is often faced by girls.

So with Ifiok, we talked about things other kids never knew about. The internet was just being born but we seemed too aware of it. We knew the latest trends in technology and talked about future careers. When we both left to different schools, we exchanged e-mails on paper. It sounds funny, but we exchanged lengthy letters we wrote in E-mail formats. We wrote mails in codes…it was fun. I am an intellectual-biased person, and I am sorry for that. But for me, intellectual is not about academic, degrees but reasoning abilities.

Wait…it was not always fun with Ifiok, at least once was not. I used to be a kid that obeyed rules in school. I was paraded by teachers as the ideal child and I really did not like it because I had my flaws. Ifiok was…the one that tried to show his unconventionality, to me at least because he knew me more than them.

There was this Introductory Technology woman everyone feared. I was cool with her and even marked her scripts because I seemed immune to what students called “wickedness”. Her class was the last one could disturb but Ifiok was immune to punishments as the son of a teacher. So Ifiok poked me in her class, tried to make me break the rules. I knew what he was trying to do so when I got tired I told him to stop.

Aha!! The woman picked that up. My telling him to stop was my disturbing. I tried to explain but she shut me up and made me stand. That was my first and likely only class humiliation. She asked me to repeat what she had just taught and I did so perfectly. She was not satisfied. She started abusing me and told me something I have not still forgotten:

“Effiong, you have fallen from the table to the dust…”

I was ashamed for a moment but was just sure that I will keep my distance. No, not from Ifiok, but her. We continued our intellectual talks afterwards to keep the numerous “sorry” from sycophantic and sincere classmates away. That term I was still first with even a stronger A in her subject. She spent the rest of her stay trying to indirectly apologize by drawing close.  She was transferred shortly afterwards. When we met in the new school I later attended, I was in senior secondary and all her praise to teachers and students hardly moved me because I moved on. So, today, Ifiok and myself met on a table, we did not fall from it to the dust!

There was once though that we collaborated on something. One term I felt I was unfairly treated and wanted to ‘leave their first for them’ by deliberately trying to be third. I told him, but without details and he did not question. On the day of the results being read, I was at his place within the school, we were busy playing games, unconcerned and came out when it was over to see remnants of a shocked school and teachers. I came third, but only both of us really knew it was deliberate. It was our last term together.

Well, before he takes over my day, my meeting with him was very nice and for once I was talking about this blog with some sort of plan and purpose. Ifiok is techy and I believe looking at this whole thing with his computer eyes would do a lot of good…someone that is a licenced doctor who spends his time making mobile apps his patients.

Work went well today, but it was mostly talking, sketching, proposing, analyzing and looking for ways to solve a problem.

MON 21

“Love is like a drawing exercise, first you sketch…you only thicken the lines when you are sure”- Me

I just read something I wrote about late Engr. Ebong, that man made me perfect freehand sketching in engineering. He was by far the best lecturer I have had. I remember him talking about the sketching process…it is a loving process.

That Engr. Ebong was a humane genius at what he does best is a fact, but the love-drawing analogy may seem strange. People do not know how to draw because they do not know how to handle the pencil. Their hands are either too afraid and draw barely anything, or too aggressive and make a mess of anything. Drawing is not tracing. A good drawing starts from a faint sketch, a period where the black pencil lead is getting to know the paper…the guy is getting to know the lady…and they are trying to interpret what they want, a picture. So it is the patience and expertise and talent that brings out a beautiful picture. Most rushed drawings are ugly, sketchy or even abandoned.

Let me leave this topic before you think I am having a HarryMeghanotobia. How will that name pass for a sickness?

Well, today I was on site. There were long discussions and plans and sketches and drawings. There was a huge obstacle on the pipeline connections that we wanted to modify and we could not have seen this earlier. You know, there is one comforting slogan that I hear on site when welders and fitters are on site. It goes thus: “Iron must obey”. It means that there is no obstacle that has to do with metals that cannot be overcome. It is the same with life. Trials and obstacles may seem insurmountable but it goes away eventually. Troubles must obey!

SUN 20

“If you see a man that makes a fool of himself in front of you, then you have found a love for a lifetime”              -the movie, The Seat Filler

 

I do not understand this picture thing, am I starting a new journal trend? Well that movie is one of my favorite movies, at least it is in that category on my younger one’s movie collections. I think it was one of those “your kind of movie” recommendations by my best friend. It must be him.

Why am I starting today with this talk? I think I woke up listening to Tobi Salami’s spoken word poetry called Don’t Walk Away. Tobi has a special place in my art heart and I am supporting him all through his pen strides. It was a lovely poem and with a creative presentation, but…I have always had my own ideas about this thing called love. You should read the Love and Tennis article on the EKOes journal series(vol 1).

Tobi’s poetry made me remember a poem I wrote in year 2 or so. Guess what it was called: WALK AWAY. Though it was written about and for two friends who had issues, but it could be used to address what I think about this thing people call love. I think to most extent it should be mutual. So if one person tries and the other vehemently refuses, or if one thought it is going on well and the other opts out, I always say: WALK AWAY. I think the heart is the last thing to invest in a relationship. It is too delicate and sensitive and should be put in when there is assurance(not Davido’s song).

Well, you may think of asking if I am saying that to guard against the heart breaking, but I am rather deep in thought…the heart is so soft, does not even have bones, how come they say it could break? It is not even hard, how come they say it gets crushed? Maybe I meant that the heart is too delicate so that no one squeezes it…don’t mind me o.

Today started early. I was even at meetings too early and joined a sizable number to wait outside. And the meetings went so well. I really enjoyed the talk about being honest in all we say and do as it was spiced up with practical experiences. The Watchtower study on hospitality was very nice and someone said she could not comment because her family owed me one hospitality too many. I was humbled.

I was out in service and I stayed an hour 30 minutes more than I thought because it was totally enjoyable.

Later, I went yo see my cousin Ozzy and her adorable baby, a baby who kept fighting me all through. i knew I had not done well by not visiting them earlier even when our residences were a walking distance apart, but she should not disgrace me too much.

Talking about kids, I was with Puregold and her brother at meetings. They wanted to sit with me and that meant I needed to device a means to make the later concentrate or at least not disturb. he is trouble, personified.

i spoke with a lot of people today…mum, a cousin, brothers, my best friend, my shy friend, my small best friend, etc. It was a lovely day.

Let me end by asking a question. People think I do not eat much because I am watching my weight, is it true?

SAT 19

“If you don’t sacrifice for what you want, what you want becomes the sacrifice” -Edima Arthur

LOVE IS IN THE AIR! Today Prince Harry married Meghan and I hear it is a wedding more romantic than that of Prince William, the heir-apparent. William is a cool guy, but Harry is like his hair: fiery! He may be the 6th in line to the English throne, but he sure does know adventure and how to live life. He refused to be pressured and is marrying at the cool age of 33, to a 36 year-old, someone who many Brits see as “black”. It may have taken him to sacrifice a lot of deafness to what people would say to make this go through.

It is not about sharing a name I use on my E-mail, Harry has always been an interesting character, the Different One. He has in the eyes of the royals been toying between the lines of getting into trouble. He was the normal royal, often trying to live a normal life…and he used to be so ruddy. He even joined the army at a point. Everyone likes William, everyone loves Harry. Congratulations to them!

Well, Nigerians really got talking about this wedding tonight and it surprised me. They talked about Meghan’s steep move to royalty, but she has a CCC personality(Cool, Calm and Calculated), don’t mind these things I coin. They also talked about her “simple” wedding dress. It was actually quite expensive, but I will praise its modesty…and finally, they talked about her makeup. Meghan was Meghan. I think guys were lashing out at the trend of brides being unrecognizable on wedding days. Virtually, most brides seem recreated with layers and layers of makeup that are several shades apart from their complexion. One post really made the point by comparing the trend to making brides agama lizards and this got me laughing.

Please Harry and Meghan should not take more space in my journal because they did not pay for it. I wish them many more years of love and understanding and two dashing kids, a girl first, and then a boy.

So, today was Kingdom Hall cleaning but after going on time, I waited for an hour and no one came. All the while, I was trying to make calls to the persons I expected had much information about it, I thought I had the number on my phone, but it was only after almost an hour that I got it, I had saved the surname and had searched for the first name.

Eventually, a fair number of mostly young people turned up and we were able to spend the next three hours cleaning.

While I had waited though, I used the time to make calls, routine calls but mostly to people I have not talked to for some time. It was rewarding and it made me realize that I will spend a part of today for such calls. I heard from at least three people I have not seen or talked to in some three years and they were very happy.

These routine calls are not always fruitful. My strategy is often to call twice. It is believed that if someone sees two missed calls from one person, the person should call back or at least acknowledge. Sometimes recently, I forget to do this, maybe because of being busy or my mind is taken off it by many things. I am using a friend to correct this habit, to know how it feels when you try to call people and they do not respond. It is like learning to be patient and I really need a lot of patience for it…try to think into another person’s thought. This is even more difficult if you are not used to giving attention but always on the receiving end.

I always believe in having a positive impact on all my friends. I want to make them better persons and it dreads me to even think that this my want can be a sacrifice by my aim not being achieved, so I may occasionally barge into personal spaces to achieve what I want to. It may be hard, but I will try. However, if it is obvious that I am being more catholic than the pope, I quit.

FRI 18

“…life is like a colorful fabric, people are like the threads…” -Me

My irregular sleeping patterns may have persisted, but I started today really smiling. I recalled announcements during the assembly I attended in Uyo about a fortnight ago and it really made me smile.

The announcements were really unusual. There was one about care with high-heeled  shoes, another about periwinkle, that if it is contained in food, the shell should be disposed of properly so as not to cause accidents. There was another one on the need to avoid taking shelter from the sun under the African oil bean tree “also known as ukana or ugba…because the heat of the sun can make the pods to explode which may result in an accident…” and when those in auditoriums turned to look at where the tree was, people were taking shelter under it, prior to the announcement. There was laughter.

What made us laugh more was the mention of chewing gum. It was stated that “even when the chewing of gum during the program is discouraged, those who chose to chew it FOR HEALTH REASONS should not drop it into the bins…but wrap it in a paper or  tissue before dropping it into the the bin.” Even during the intermission, the “health reasons” part still rung a bell.

I wanted to be cheerful today and maintain a positive outlook. Even when an equipment we needed for the job disappointed this morning, I was still positive. In the end we were successful, in fact we were able to divide ourselves for the two sites.

We came back on time and the electricity which has not been there for some 48 hours was restored. I had to to start preparing my work reports and relish memories of a beautiful day. I decided to make calls and…

…my day got a sting at the end. There was bad news from a friend, about something that had lingered and we had expected the best,  the worst happened. I hate it when one suffers for a good or for what he/she is not guilty of.

I felt the pain, the fabric of that life seem scourged and somewhere woven into that path of life was me.

THU 17

“…it takes one person to love, but two to be in love…” -A Movie

Aha! For once I have agreed on what people say on this subject. You people say I have my own funny ideas about everything, especially love. I will not blame you, I blame those who planted in the minds of people that love is something dangerous or hurtful: a FALL. So when this quote said “be in” love, I had to agree.

One thing that gets me tangled is Eko, you know in this journal I have called her “Cici Eko”, not because I got the “Sisi” spelling wrong, but this my Eko is a city and not some literal sisi.

Today, for the second time, someone at work was excited that I was finally going to get angry. He said he first knew me some two years back and he had not seen me angry before and concluded that I was not capable of expressing the emotion. Hmmm…the way people accuse me of things or try to read my life eh…I don’t just know what to say.

I remember sometime ago when someone made a similar assertion, then I had responded: “I don’t get angry, I only get upset because anything that is upset could easily be set”. Of course I was playing with words, but I know my message was driven in.

What got me upset at work? There is something we kept on site and wanted to use it and it was not there. We searched for it everywhere and even when I could forgo the items and suffer doing the work, I decided to lodge a complaint. It led to a search and even though it was innocently taken, it was in someone’s custody. In the end, it was not the expression of anger that he expected as I had even asked the Iron Lady to be the one to lay the complaint. But let me ask you one thing: do you think I am too gentle and almost genteel? My real friends think otherwise. I think they believe I am a dormant volcano but that the only thing I can burn when it erupts are minds.

Well, partly due to the search, we could not achieve all that we could have done, today.

Today I had woken up by past 2am and was unable to sleep. I had slept too early, just one and a half hour before my midnight bedtime. I used the time to prepare for meetings and study and do my Bible reading.

Sometimes when I drag myself to sleep late, you will complain. I know what it means to wake up too early in the morning and sleep had escaped. I have a friend though whose ordeal seems worse. She sleeps by sometimes 3 or 4am. That is not just the problem, she cannot sleep sometimes until she gets really scared, is that not strange. I have been thinking of asking her to stop but my three doctor friends will say I am “practicing without a licence”. Also, my left hand side was arguing with the right side about why this should be my problem. I have to wait for them to be calm before I think it through, is that not what people call “internal peace?”

So…today I was at meetings, two weeks after I last associated with the congregation. Of course the welcome was outstanding and I had a bit of a course to settle with Puregold who said I lied by not attending meetings two Tuesdays ago. Kids are not people to make promises to and fail to keep them. I had a lot to explain and they understood.

The welcome was more significant because of little Tome. Tome is one 3+ kid in this congregation that holds so much promise on faith. I am always amazed by her comments, but when she handled a student assignment on the platform yesterday, I was almost moved to tears. The applause had to be taken again. It was amazing.

I did feel sleep early again. Will this irregular sleeping pattern restart?

WED 16

“faith is when you chose the hard way because of your conviction”

My mum usually quote an Efik proverb for us: “the eye is a lazy man”. Prior to executing it, we could not imagine that we could achieve what we did today in the period of time we did.

Today I called a +1 number to talk to a good friend afar. Today too I was also accused of making too many and too long calls. I am guilty of this and ready to face the consequences, but I can assure you that my lawyer, young Mabel(permit me to name her) will defend me and get me out of any trouble.

I do not plan to do these things, but if I am to call someone, it has to be a quality call, it may be once in a period of time, but a quality call. So because I know too many people, the once in a period of time seem to occupy times every day.

I returned hungry, and hungry is one rare word for me in the Garden City even when cici Eko feeds me twice more often. I stopped by a small market to shop and cook soup!

I really do have to get my kitchen life back. I was not impressed with the soup even when it was okay. I may not eat much, but when I do, finesse matters a lot.

I ate, saw a movie on my phone and went to bed earlier than usual.

TUE 15

“Treasure the one who makes you smile”

You have known me to speak the truth to the best of my ability. Today was a difficult day. Any day one fights with time is often difficult.

We battled all morning to get a documentation right. At the last minute, I carried my laptop and the one you know as Iron Lady was working with it all through in the vehicle while we were on transit.

In the end, we arrived the facility we needed the documentation to work by break time which was a bit late. We had stopped by the facility we had been working to do prepare the document proper. Do not blame my team, blame the Lagos office for the last-minute information.

Well, we did what we had to do and concluded in time, or is it “on time”?

It was with this tiring day in mind that someone really made me smile, I meant repeatedly. I realized very little funny experiences when related sincerely are great medicine. please helm me thank him/her.

MON 14

“Take a chance, control your life”

So today a friend came visiting. He had an exam to write tomorrow, or was it an interview. It is always a lovely thing to have these ones around. Of course when it is someone who reasons the same way you do, the flow will be obvious.

Do I really think like someone who is not from this country? If not, why do people keep making me feel like a stranger in my country? of course, I really find it difficult to accept the way things are done here and I often have my own set of of values different from what is generally acceptable or practiced but that does not warrant the “I wonder why you are in this country” objection.

I had a lot of movement to make today, a lot of distance to cover and places to go, but that I found myself home some two hours afternoon was almost a miracle.

I was tired, but with my friend coming, I had to cook. I have not really cooked lately and cooking seem to be leaving me, but with having an incident of food poisoning the last time I ate out, I had to reconsider it.

Sometimes, life is like swimming, you have to take the plunge.

SUN 13

“…if we were to pay wives and mothers for the jobs they do, we would not be able to pay them…” -Me

The above statement is true. I love my mother and I would love my wife.

The Sunday was beautiful. Of course I was tired, having woken up earlier than normal the past three days. I needed rest but I had little time for that, maybe until Tuesday. My life had been on a fast forward pace the past few days.
Today was meant to be an emotional day and it was. Of course I cancelled a visit because of another visit I had to make later in the day, but in the morning, as soon as I stepped into the hall, there is this young person that have so missed me, and the mum was like: please tell her when you will finally be back because I am tired of answering this question.
Meetings were nice, though I struggled with the sound, there seemed to be too much background noise. I even had the privilege of roving the microphone. It was nice. After meetings, the warmth was outstanding.
Why did I write this thing about mothers and wives? Let me say this again, I love my mother a lot and everyone is on the lookout on who my wife will be because I will so dote her. I do appreciate the role women play in everything. A woman was my Bible teacher, my mother had more influence in my life, I dote my sister, I have four non-biological daughters and I love them dearly. My best friend is a guy, but my “lawyer” and “Doctor” are females.
We did visit a family that consisted of a nursing mother and we encouraged her for the things she is doing…no one can pay her for those services.

SAT 12

“…the One teaching you to benefit yourselves…”

I woke up early today, Lagos-early, and was set for the Kingdom Ministry school. It was to last from 8am to 5.45pm and one would wonder how to keep one’s mind focused for so long a time.

I think divine education is very cool, it is the best education there is. I was so thrilled to receive the lectures, videos, participatory parts, discussions and all. I wondered what it took to put all that together during the three breaks.

It may have taken a whole day, but instead of being tired, I was refreshed and ready to face not just the next day but the next phase of my life starting from tomorrow.

I hope you will still be there with me?

FRI 11

“Live your life”

Sometimes people try to make us fit into a character they mold for us, a character they want us to be. They want to shape our thinking and control the way we act, but I often disappoint them. Though I try to be flexible as much as I can be, I am my own person, I live my life.

What about a day where there is ‘no work at Work’? I don’t have to “show face” when it is expensive to do so, so I make a decision. I put the most important thing above everything else. Today was that warm day that life was on a move. I don’t like a stagnant life at all.

I take my relationship with towns and cities as a Relationship. Analogies make life more fun and always keep us smiling. You know, I have abandoned cici EKO for some time now. Edikan had said it is an act of [emotional] unfaithful, but I think it is more of having to go somewhere to work and you find yourself with an opposite sex assistant that adores you and is not afraid to make moves. EKO will surely be worried.

Sometimes I wonder what she will do when we finally meet after this separation. Will she tell me: “go back to her”? Sometimes we should not be too hard on people who love us, even those who appear tough. Deep down inside, they have soft spots for us. That said, you should let my relationship with Lagos the way it is. If I happen to be in her today, then we will reconcile.

Well, my movement stopped just in time to make me attend meetings with Olosan congregation. It was nice to be there but I was not expecting any rush of emotions until a boy of about 12 came up to me, told me his name was Grant. He went further to explain that he loved how I was “reading” and wants me to teach him to read that way. I told him I will be busy for some time and he said he would wait.

There were familiar missed hugs from times past and talks and the feeling that the thing called home is “a lump in my broken heart, unchanged”. This was not really home though. Where am I?

THU 10

“I wanted my needs but never needed my wants” – Me

Sometimes, we try to impress others too much that we end up ruining ourselves. No attempt to impress should ever make us stop being ourselves. i am saying this because I remembered the oddest moment of the assembly on Sunday. It was during the review of the most widely distributed magazine in the world, the Watchtower. A sister was commenting with her ‘diction’ accent. It started fairly and she thought the little murmur was applause. She did not just overdo, she was not natural and made blunders. it was so obvious that there was a bit of an uproar. The purpose of her comment was defeated and it even prevented the comments of others being heard.

Talking about showing self, I heard hailstones fell in some parts of the garden City on Monday.

Noah’s rain fell today though, from morning till evening.

We fixed the vehicle notwithstanding.

Today quickly crept by. Work’s work hardly functions here when rain falls.

Cold night.

WED 9

“I hate to lose control over anything I am responsible for” – Me

My iPad made her journey to me this evening after spending the night in my hometown. I know I love to travel, but I never knew the things I own will have the same disposition. i really felt sorry for her because I had not missed her much and had almost no time for her on her return.

I went to site with my HOD today, we all did. It was good because the concerns I have had on the design we were given was also clear for someone else to see. Since he was leaving for Lagos today too, we did not spend all day on that site but visited another place where we had worked the last time I was here. It was one extremely organized place that going in was a huge problem. There seem to be extreme protocols but I refused to see it that way. What else will you expect from a place run by Europeans? I am not demeaning the abilities of Africans, but stating the obvious.

Well, after dropping off the ‘boss man’ I thought it wise that we buy fuel and we passed through one bridge and market near where our lodge is situated. We were able to see firsthand members of a task force scattering the goods of anyone who sold outside the market. These issues are very sensitive because it brings up means of livelihood against a pronounced law, but those involved were overdoing it. We saw a policeman of rampage, breaking the mirrors of cars by the road, some had their drivers inside. It was easier to ask them to move than abuse that power.

My colleague was concerned that the traders might fight back. In less than half an hour, we could not take the route back, there was a riot. We diverted and all the roads were blocked. We spent over an hour for a five minute drive.

Abuse of power is not control.

TUE 8

“To be good does not mean merely being better than others” – Me

I have always believed in people and be stubborn about the good in them, but I also believe that we should improve and become better persons. I learnt something about comparison at the Assembly over the weekend. Comparisons could weigh one down and even make one be below one’s potential.

I spoke with Mother today, she called. She worries over many tiny things and keeps insisting it is her “responsibility”, sometimes I just smile. Father called later in the evening and I spoke with three brothers too today.

I have a lot of weight on my mind and they keep coming. You should not be too worried, but I wish I could fix everyone and everything sometimes, but you already know that I cannot.

My HOD was around today in this city, and even when he was to visit another site for a meeting, we had a good talk about many things.

I cannot fail to mention the strategic text I got from someone in my EKO congregation, it made me feel so guilty. They are all expecting me back soonest and there are many people I had not called. I could not stand their voices.

MON 7

“Wetin dey for Sokoto, e dey for sokoto” – A Nigerian pidgin proverb

Today was a beautiful day where times and dates were met and where loved ones spiced up the day with their presence, voice and texts. The only dent to an almost perfect day was forgetting my iPad miles away. It was unlike me, forgetting an item so prized, no, not the cost but its position in my everyday life, a mediator between the phone and the laptop. i quickly looked for ways to do what I needed to do without it.

Work was not intensive and even the showers did not bother us. It is a stage of work that is slow and one can do nothing about it. And soon after it, the pace will be so fast and one can do nothing about it again. That is how engineering is sometimes, like life: slow and fast. Everything seems to have a code to follow, and though many do not follow it, it is there.

I got the first volume of EKOes yesterday, it was with someone for over a year. I realized that that volume seemed to be dedicated to celebrating loss, loss of fake friends. It must really have been a bold step, the attempt to shake off companionship that was not worthwhile or were parasitic. It is ironic then that I was inspired to write Ellipsis that same year. even when it was about fictional characters in a story i wrote over a decade ago, Ellipsis was a poem that mourns friendships that could have been but were not.

I think there is need for balance and control. While desiring to protect yourself from toxic friendships,  do not bee too guarded so as to miss out on opportunities to make great friends. Many times, these great friends are always there, around us. If we are not too self-centered, we  will see them.

I do not know if it is a good thing, but I naturally react to people the way I feel they are. Sometimes it is totally different from the way other people view them, but it does not matter to me. I do not really make friends, I keep them and yesterday, I was contacted by some of the finest of them.

SUN 6

CIRCUIT ASSEMBLY: “…Don’t Give Up in Fulfilling the Law of Christ…”

One person that have amazed me these past days have been Toroja. Kids really know far more than we think they do. I played a song this morning from my phone and she was singing along, a song I thought was complex. She may not know the lyrics but she got the tune and pitch right. She also has a way of giving people names. She often call people names she is called outside her real name or variants of it.

She calls her baby sister “Tata” despite that one bearing DaraMfon. She calls one of her aunt “Omomo” because that one calls her that, one of her Dad’s friends “Play-play”, her aunt, my sister “Ennie” the name my sister calls her mother. She calls someone else “My friend, my friend” and yet another “I’ll beat you”. What will she call me? I think “uncle” will do. Was I like this at 2 years?

So, I attended the assembly, I thought I will know no one but ended up meeting people I have not seen for between 4 years and a decade at every turn. It shocked me. i did not remember the name of most, but it was a “this face looks familiar” situation all through. And I did not even move around. I even met Sitobong, you should know that “troublesome” Facebook friend.

The Assembly itself was very interesting and encouraging, the talks, experiences and all.

While going back, I met someone else, a secondary school classmate and friend!

There was still time for a Dinner for Three that my little friend promised and delivered. I love eating out twice in a while, and when one just graduated, should I not ‘eat on top of her head’? They say it is not easy. She used to be ‘My Editor’ for those tiny journal series I called Pieces. The third person was my cousin-sister-friend who some call my ‘Favorite Girl’, the person behind my Akwa-Igbo identity coinage.

You are upset that a lady(by graduation she qualifies, by size she is just a girl) had to pay for an eat out. It is not a crime. I tried the “split bills” method and it got her quite upset. I think you should try buying me dinner too, I hear it brings a great feeling, buying people dinner.

SAT 5

“…work with your hands…”

The toll of the work this week was really felt in my body and I had to rest up a bit while helping to take care of the baby. Now the baby is stunningly beautiful that nanny calls her “Angel”. Her real name is a combination of two virtues: Happiness and Grace. Staying at home up to an hour after noon was totally worth it.

I had some visiting to do today, but I started with a friend whom I will address by her business name, Aliero. 2018 is my year of Startups and in it, I intend to meet friends who are trying to carve a niche for themselves by starting up businesses. I really do love people who work hard with their hands. Granted, the white collar job may come, but they do not wait for it but press on in loving what they do or doing what they love. We discussed business for extended times and we looked at ways to make the startup stand and even expand.

That business visit did bit remain what it was meant to be because I met a lot of people there and around, people in my former congregation that I have not seen for years. I sure do know a lot of people, almost everyone does, but it is the ability to have some sort of personal relationship with everyone I know that seem different. It is a beautiful thing and makes you feel loved. I do not try to do this, it just falls into place naturally.

I went on another visit where I saw my daughter, amongst other people. I had warned that I did not need food to be made for me. There was an alternative that still looked like food too. I had the opportunity to talk to another young friend. I have tried to reach him but he had been so scarce that I could not reach him. He is someone I was worried about. He is just through writing his senior secondary examination, but he has strong opinions that I became concerned about career choice. We talked about the snares of professional football, the dangers of acting and the practicality of some professions.

As I went to the last place, I saw masquerades. It was the type I described as “the Adam wandering as if at the garden of Eden just after sin happened.” It came cooing at me for money. It was the charcoal that I feared. My cloth had a touch of white. But why are there masquerades in May? The answer may be the same for why cocks now crow at anytime of the day, no more hourly to keep time.

So I visited the last family, and it ended up being three families. Kids were so grown that they made me appear short. They were not just tall, but so big. The main thing that impressed me was their growth in faith.

I realized too that even when I spent six years here or so, many people knew very little about me. That is how it is meant to be, one does not go about narrating one’s history to just everyone. It gives a lot of respect and when meeting people that you may not have known too well during your stay, then there will be questions to answer.

Today I learnt that the bonds of friendships should be maintained and this involves working hard at it, so much work is also required in a career or doing something to earn a living.

FRI 4

“…patience is a virtue…”
Today was an amazing day. I went to work early on, not work’s work, but the most important work there is. I do love doing this work, it’s a kind of harvest work done in the field. I still remember when I use to tell people I want to go out in the field and they will ask when I started playing football. I know some will think I have become a farmer as I am talking about harvest work.
Well, I went away this evening to another city to see loved ones. You know, of everything the place I am offers, proximity to home is one of the most desirable. Home is not just where the heart is, home is where sweethearts are.
Now, one of those is a 2+ niece with a Spanish-sounding name: Toroja. She behaves like a grown woman but the great thing about her is not her savvy but her being sociable. She is an everyone’s woman. As soon as I stepped in, she jumped up on me and started teaching me A, B, C…and showing me her school bag and shoes.

I had very little time for her before I dashed out for a date…aha…I knew it will raise your brows, but it was a date all the same. I have wondered what a date really means, but I think it is an arrangement for two or more people to meet and talk about something. A date must not always be romantic.
Okay, let me talk about this one. I did have a date with whom I will call Toe-Toe, almost sounding like the name we call Toroja, my niece. We really became friends when I read a story written about her by her mother called A Time To Heal. It was an amazing ten-chapter story. You know, she was sick and went for a surgery and was recovering, but the story was more than a recovery story, it had a chapter called There is a Boy…
Well, we agreed to meet over ice cream and it was an amazing place she choose and it reminded me of Coldstone in Lagos. Stressful Fridays are for ice cream, you know.
You are itching to find out how the date went. It went well. What else will I say? I have not met her before except online, but I expected a proper date only to see her turn up with her mother and little aunt. I don’t know if it is the way I talked about the book that made bring her mother, but I knew I had to make the best out of the odd situation. How was I even sure the mother was not protecting her?

After the brief tense moment, I did have a very nice talking time, all of us, even when she hardly said anything. It ended up being a kind of book review. I also realized her mother was scared of bugs, so we had discussions too about bugs that could be lovely like the ladybug or ladybird. In the end, it was a lovely date and we had a little private time where I learnt about how well she is recovering from the surgery.

I learnt something from all of this, a mother is still a mother no matter how grown a child thinks she is. Also, time heals all wounds, time is patient and patience is a virtue.

THU 3

“when in doubt, ask”

Today rain fell, a day after we completed the civil work. I may just be too faith-showing about this, but I sensed something divine about the whole thing. It is not about miracles, but Jehovah does listen to even the tiny requests we make and often grant us those wishes.

I still went to site early as we had things to tidy up and tidy up, we did. On my way though, I got a strange call. It was a +44 mobile number and not one I had in my contact. I really could not know what the call was about but the person kept demanding some details. I asked him to do me a mail as I was on the road. You know, the world is a crazy place and the online world is crazier.

Gone are the days of…well, never mind. I talked to a lot of people today. Friends and family. Today, they were the ones that called.

There was also a lengthy discussion from the office, a technical suggestion I have serious reservations about. I had to call my friend in my department whose field it was on. You know already that it is civil engineering.

Today passed by faster than I thought it would. Tomorrow may be a day of many words…or very few.

WED 2

” Nothing is proven strong if it has not been hurled against a wall”

I woke up still feeling tired, but I did wake up very early once more. For the past two days, the dreams I have had every night has been about concrete and reinforcement…such has been the impact of the civil works on my mind.

Work started early, but I went to see the terminal engineer on his assessment of the work so far. He was satisfied. It was only after expressing his satisfaction that I mentioned the challenges that we faced, just some of them.

We completed the remaining aspect of the work in just enough time to enable the Iron Lady go for her Christian meetings.

I was still tired today, even when I talked to an NYSC friend and my siblings, 4 of them.

Another thing I battled with was my SIM card misbehaving and I had no access to the Internet to update the daily logs. Now you know why I still wanted my pen and paper right? You know, I wanted to type “abi?” but I was not sure if computers understand Nigerian Pidgin…before it changes it to “abbey?” The autocorrect feature is a busybody.

TUE 1

” A handful of rest is better than two handfuls of work”

Today was May Day, a public holiday and I was at work before 8am. In the end it became the craziest work day I have had so far because I was at work still before 8pm.

It was civil works that we had, and still, that course had not forgiven me. I was quick to spot out something as the design was done from Lagos and thus there was a key misunderstanding. We battled to address it, and of course was online with my colleague to be reassured that we were in order.

It was a very hot day, but I fought on from 4 frontiers: iron bending, welding, casting and procurement. Each were delegated but each needed supervision at almost every given point. Outside the second and third, each time I paid less attention or went away to supervise another section, work seemed slow or a mistake was made. So today I had to urge and mildly scream. I was sweating and it was as if I was drenched. I was without food but not hungry.

Even when I was to attend a religious Assembly in Uyo on Sunday and thus may not attend weekly meetings, I was distraught having to miss the meetings today and the CO’s talk. All plans to leave them by 4pm backfired because by 4, we discovered a critical challenge we needed to address.

Why did I even fix work for a public holiday? There would be less eyes on such a critical work and I will be able to coordinate the work without too many bosses from the client’s end confusing the workers with too many contrasting suggestions.

Well, I had a great work day in the end, even when it was a very tiring one. I barely gave food it’s time and went to bed.

APRIL 2018

SUN 29

“Bad association spoils useful habits”

 

I love to be in control of the things I am responsible for, and one of those things is my life. I have been accused of several things, from being guarded too being selectively open, to being a snub… I have taken these accusations as misunderstandings but at the same time been unapologetic for being determined to be me.

Today went smooth and even beautiful as I did everything on time and went for meetings pretty early. It is always beautiful to do these important things on time instead of being in a hurry…and meetings were beautiful. You know I have a whole lot of little friends. One of them, PureGold had mandated me to change the position I sit at meetings and I had to obey that little madam. I walked with another, Courage in service and I granted his wish of knowing our lodge.

Today that I talked to the Surulere relatives and my cousin here was meant to end beautiful, but something got me upset at the end. I refuse to dwell on this as I have little control over it. Good night.

SAT 28

“I don’t make friends, I keep them”

When I tell people that I used to be skeptical about making friends because it was as if my heart will be filled up and I have no space for them, people laugh. I don’t know why people like laughing when I am serious about something.

I know sometimes it makes one seem proud, this not saying “hi, nice to meet you” first, but I try to change this sometimes. These days, I try to take myself through the rigors people pass through, seeing if I will have a glimpse of the life of being rejected and dejected, so that I can understand more and see how truly people feel.

When people try to make me their friend ‘out of the blues’, it reminds me of what actually is and it makes me a bit uncomfortable if I do not see a tangible reason for it. I respect these ones though because they are honest to themselves and it takes great humility and courage to do that, especially if society expects the opposite.

“One person can make a difference, and every person should try” Thomas Cronin said. I do not know who he was, but it is true. I am trying to make a difference in the lives of a couple of people, these are things I do naturally, but the difference is that I am brushing off the “reason” question.

I think sincere interest is different from what a friend calls “bugging” because I pretty much used to be my own person with my own space and huge circle of wannabe acquaintances, it was still fun, but bringing down the walls to half-walls is more fun, though it means putting more guards on duty and more ushers… which is pretty expensive.

So, I stayed indoors most of today, almost all of today. I had planned to go out preaching and did not know there was environmental sanitation. I am finding it hard to get used to this restriction of movement during environmental Saturdays. In Lagos, ‘we’ took the government to court and won, so we go about our normal businesses on these days. So there was I making calls about preaching and no one seemed to know the territory until I was told it was sanitation.

I would say that I had “a lot of paperwork” to do today and that kept me busy all day, but with this work being done on the computer, I do not know if I am to call it “screen work”.

Outside studying, I did see a movie Lotanna. I think the got the setting so right, the movie being set in the 80’s. I did not see it in the cinema but on the iRokotv on my phone. Another movie I had seen yesterday and loved it for bringing back old time stories was A Love Story. I did not like Nollywood movies that much, but a collection of top rated movies on Iflix and iRokotv has changed my mind. So I read through the gist, check the ratings and make a choice. I am careful about what I watch.

I spoke with my mum, brother and a little friend in Lagos. He said I should be back fast and bring something. Eko will never give up on me, we may be separated but she wants me back, she may have been nagging but now she is speaking softly, appealing to my mind. Relationships could be complex processes, couldn’t they? even the ones we are in with cities.

FRI 27

“There is no hiding place for a goldfish”

Today was one day I should have panicked because my rhythm of work was slowed down by a design needed that I did not receive and spent a lot of time trying to get it done and sent me via mail from Lagos. It was civil engineering and I am always professional by not assuming to do things that is not in my field.

In the end, we achieved something and it was good how the work day ended…of course with me being baked by the sun and stressed up a little.

What do I really do at work here? You will likely say: “nothing. I just see you standing and then walking over the whole place”. I will not blame you, you have your way of making me laugh by trying to ‘provoke’ me. I love it when you do that.

I discovered something interesting about the safety lady today, the one that replaced Joe whom you know as Iron Lady. She is not just from my state, but also my faith. I had slight suspicions that grew by the day and of course she too had. It was amazing to realize that after years of working, I had someone of the same faith directly being in the same team.

True Witnesses cannot hide, they are different in the way they stand up for what they believe and the way they worship. Of course the are not perfect, but many try to be the best they can be and easily stand out as some sort of “gold fishes”, not just in behavior, but the striking difference between them and the norm.

Today ended well. We left at the close of work but I was quite tired so I watched a movie that made me laugh. It sounds crazy, but I have sometimes entertained a wild idea of taking myself through the jobs of Lagos to see how it feels while recording the whole thing for a vlog. I believe that I can get myself to do many things. One thing that seemed most difficult when I thought about the menial jobs was being a Lagos bus conductor.

So last year, I started observing them… the unique way of calling destinations and how that keep switching, the way they hold on to the bus, the way they tout, the way they fight off agberos…I just kept laughing. Even if I want a vlog on the subject, I will spend months learning. So when I saw movie with that title, I was longing to see the expertise, and I got more than I bargained for because there was the lead character who was learning to be a tout and later a conductor. It was so funny, his apprenticeship.

I do not know how you take it, but I am always uncomfortable if it seems someone knows me when I do not know the person. Let us talk about this another day.

THU 26

“Kindness begets kindness”

I have always loved to be in control of situations that involves me, but someone called yesterday with unmistakable familiarity and held on a friendly conversation for 5 minutes until I could wildly guess. It is someone I had just met the previous day but gave me plenty to think. I did not know those type of troublesome people still exist.

We went to work today and though there was no tangible work done, there were a lot of background works and when we were set to leave, I was gasping for breathe, almost fainting.

On our way back, we saw a column of black smoke and traced it. It was coming from burning ships and barges at a waterside not too far from our area. I heard repair works were being carried out in a ship laden with diesel and it exploded.

We got there late in the afternoon, but the fire started by 9am. It was a terrible sight.

Christian meetings were lovely.

good night.

WED 25

“It is better to try and fail than not to try at all, trying is a lesson of its own”

I made sure I slept “on time” last night because one becomes too hungry in the morning if he woke up the time I did yesterday.

I have noticed that I have not been that open to you on this online diary. Don’t be too angry. I have had a torrid time trusting computers and cyber-hurt takes a long time to heal.
Computers have not been too nice to me. I remember when at about the same week I lost my camera, my flash drive refused to work and my computer malfunctioned resulting in having its memory formatted. So in essence, the source, backup and plan C were all gone.
I am in Port Harcourt. I am telling you this for the first time. There is no need keeping it from you because if the walls have ears, the computer have speakers where one could be bugged… I have a friend who so hate that word: bugged.
Well, the lodge is emptying. Both Misters Ken and Joe would return to Lagos after today and that will mean depleting my team by 50%. A lady was however added today as a safety officer and she seem to be an Iron Lady.
Work was not bad today, but it involved a lot of moving around in search of materials. It was in the intensity of this search that I longed for Eko. Not that I have fallen in love with her, but I am tired of going hither and thither even for a few months. I have things to attend too important to miss. Don’t get me wrong, despite the soot, I love it here because it is near home and more like home, but not being able to stick to where I love makes me love where I am stuck.
This evening, I decided to do a macaroni redemption and thus cooked something that will make you forget the blackaroni of yesterday. I was in so jolly a mood that I watched a match out. It was not the macaroni, neither was it a strange call that pulled my legs, but the feeling one gets when finally the brain gets the exercise it needed. Someone wants to exercise my brain. God have Mercy on me!!!

TUE 24

“Build bridges, not walls”

I slept too early yesterday, I slept before midnight and woke up by 3am and could sleep no more. I think my biological clock is set to midnight being the right sleeping time. Well, the many hours I spent today awake had a lot of activities to occupy them.

Have you heard the word “blackaroni” before? I have in a comedy series called ‘Everybody Hates Chris’. That should be the name of the food you get when you leave macaroni on fire to burn and turn to black.

I do not know what I was thinking, but I made tea and wanted to have that in the kitchen, but then took it to the room and started a long call. It took some time for the macaroni to burn because the flame was very low in a camp gas I so hate. Someone else knocked on my door after perceiving the smell. It was not chocking, but a “blackaroni” all the same.

Work went well today and we completed the task of the day on time while I started getting worried about what will be accomplished the next day. Maybe I forgot the part where Christ said the next day has its own worries, sufficient for it.

Well, the rest of today may have had its own troubles, but I managed to do a couple of things and reminded my tired mind that Wednesdays are meant to be movie days, and one day to try a popcorn you found too sweet.

It was however the destruction of a “batcher” close to where we went to return a machine that kept playing in my mind like a thriller. Now, “batcher” seems to be a Port Harcourt word. They are slums made of wood and roofing sheets, but slums in a unique way. I hope to talk about them later in a real post.

You see, those who live in a batcher live as though they are living in a dying system that will soon be destroyed. It was the reason for the destruction of this particular batcher that made the situation pathetic: a politician did not just want it near his fine house…so a bulldozer came and crushed everything…leaving people with nothing and children homeless.

MON 23

“You cannot please everyone”

No one ever told me that one of the most difficult things one experiences while blogging is poor internet network. In times like this, I long for my good old pen and book. I still believe that no amount of sophistication will take those completely away from us.

I have been boxed to the corner recently…ah, no one punched me, just that the pressures I experience while trying to help others could sometimes weigh me down. The good thing about it is that we soon discover our limitations, but it becomes painful when others refuse to accept them.

Today was one crazy day where uncertainty poked its ugly head. We were delayed by circumstances beyond our control, thrown punches at by the rain and had our ears pulled by a stubborn vehicle. Do not look at me as if you did not know that I like giving live to this things, it helps in coping with the challenges they pose.

Like in many other days, I tried to blend the day towards the end and make it beautiful. Today, I left the food at home behind and ate out. Doing something different is a good medicine for curing the headache a day may have inflicted

SUN 22

“…children are ‘like stars on earth’…”

Why did I hurry from home to what is becoming a City of Soot? Well, my way of worship is pretty involving and I had preaching and teaching the Bible’s message to do. Christian meetings was by 9am and the other activities follow as soon as the under two hours service is over.

I meet amazing people here. There is a family who just moved into this congregation. It means that there were not here the last time I had a spell in this city. I greeted the man and we had a little chat about work and everything. He called the wife to introduce me. When she came, the first question she asked was “Has he invited you over?”. Well, I put off the dinner invitation for later because I had another dinner invitation today with another family in the congregation. It was amazing to see how those three kids have not just grown but matured mentally.

My kid crush for the day was non of them, but a 3+ year old I was meeting for the first time but who was not just practically a lady, but a madam. They were also one of the families that moved into the congregation newly. She was with her mother and two older siblings and suddenly became heady, going to the passage and standing in protest of being moved from her seat. I was behind them, so to save the day, I offered a truce: that she come sit with me. Little did I know that I was buying a trouble bigger than I was.

Benetia is razor-sharp and despite my children-savvy, she was quite a handful. She did not just disturb me, but she made me laugh. She said she knew my name and when I asked her, she broke into a song in which my name was contained.

I just smile when I remember her. The bond was so strong despite the the short period and it does not seem to be a bond that will just fade away.

SAT 21

…death is the most difficult thing that we face because it is so un-life” -Me

I do not like to attend burials at all, and I wonder who does. True, when I was very little, I did not seem to know any whom I really knew that had died. I kept wondering what death really was and why it makes people cry.

Years passed, and the older I grew, the more I saw people I really knew that died. It made me really sad. I wondered if more people were dying or I simply knew more people. I think both happened. I really do feel the pain, but I do not know why my heart can bleed inside, but tears do not seem to be abundant in my system, my cistern.

I lost a beloved brother and it broke my world, yet it did not draw up tears except those in the heart…spread up over decades. I think hope for a resurrection keeps me strong. The only thing that died and drew up tears was our pretty dog. It was obvious that I sensed that dogs will not be resurrected.

Why am I talking about deaths today? A beloved family friend was burying her father today. She is too happy a person for us to see tears on her face.

I attended the burial with my sister and in the end I found myself in several towns and cities today.

It was not the stressful day that dominated my mind, but a little inquisitive bus that was in the same minivan as we were. We bore names that sounded alike and he asked so many questions including where I am from.

FRI 20

I want to ask you a question. When you came up with this idea of an online journal, did you really think about a time I may have a low battery on all of my devices? If you did, let me add that my iPad has a problem and that period of being submerged is having an effect finally, so it is permanently on portrait mode.

Today started off beautifully, but it’s beauty did not last beyond the beautiful weather. Ok, I am putting in a lot of emotion into this, but if you are in a non-commercial vehicle and it breaks down, you will know what I mean. What if there is another complication of being bashed from behind?

I really was grateful for once that this was not Eko, there would have been blows first before getting to know whose fault it was. It was not ours.

I think I dwelt on a positive attitude, being grateful for what could have been but wasn’t, communicating with those that inspire and moving on to do things that mattered more while letting others help as much as they can.

Let me tell you a little about football. Today, one of ‘the greatest’ managers in football decided to step down in a couple of months. Arsene Wenger managed Arsenal and I even used to think as a kid that he owned the football club. I loved the beautiful football his team plays, but I think his personality of sticking to what he believes in despite unsuccessful spells and heavy criticism was amazing.

I learnt one thing from him: if you are absolutely sure of what you believe in, stick to it. Your believes should define you, and with it, you should leave a legacy. Wenger was a finesse man, for him, football was a science, but more of an art.

I headed home after work today, real home and not the lodge. It meant heading to another state and the place I was born.

…work on yourself and become the person you desire, then live your legacy!

I got home still thinking of Wenger. I did not know if I am to be happy or sad for him, if he would be remembered more for his career successes or the failures that being resolute inflicted on him.

Talking about resolute, I had traveled with students of a higher institution in my hometown. One, though looking conservative was very smart and shared much of her experience the previous semester, which was her first.

I left them with a lot of advise about school, what they should expect and why they should remain resolved to do the right thing.

Home was pretty surprise to see me, but one does not need an invitation to go home.

THU 19

I am really feeling nervous doing this. I have known you through my ink for many years, yet this is the first time that you have asked me to talk to you from a computer screen.

You know, the world is becoming superficial, and I am worried. Life is being lived in the clouds and I cannot fly. I will not deceive the birds and borrow feathers like the tortoise is said to have done because I can come crashing when the feathers are taken away.

Today was a normal day. I had so criticized the rain last week that it decided to respect itself. I had become so used to the Lagos dryness that I forgot that where I was born, rain falls almost all the time.

Work went well, and I had time for my Christian meetings…

How did this go? Hello…hello today…let me put my drowsy eyes to sleep. Hopefully, you will give a reply tomorrow.

INTRODUCTION AND DEDICATION

For almost four months, I have not written entries or daily logs to my personal journal. The journal of 2017 (EKOes) was unique, far beyond having four volumes. It was a ‘living’ journal.

What do I call another journal? This question is primarily responsible for the months of my not keeping a personal log. I knew it could not be an EKOes series because I would be separated from Lagos for some time. Well, now that I am ready to write something, I think I should call it HITHER AND THITHER as I will basically be here and there. I started it in Port Harcourt and I know most of it will be somewhere else…most likely Eko.

I am not promising anything on this journal, except that the errors therein are pre-pardoned, but you will not be able to correct them. It is also going to be a struggle as I am doing an online journal for the first time. I owe a lot of people a lot on this, but I do dedicate this 2018 journal…

To…

NsikanJah my non-biological daughter, for making me proud by being on Future’s path. I was there like I promised on that day.

Happiness her sister(in the same way), for fighting on and never giving up on the most important things

Ezra Samuel for the pen believe, and for paying for the blog domain name and hosting.

Toiyo Benjamin, for being the block behind the blog, and being solely responsible for this online journal series: Hello Today

Hafeez, my colleague, for persuading me to set up a blog and being at the backend to make it run smoothly.

Ogbonnaya Agwu, for always being there, and retaining his top seeding.

MerCee Solomon for tiny setup things that counted much, and for the little stories about my friend: A TIME toe HEAL.

Evergreen for reminding me early on by your little life,  that life is full of so much fun that it is a crime not to capture it.

My congregation and work team for fun times expected.

You, for being the most amazing companion. I appreciate the things you do.