SMELL YOU LATER


smoke--swirl--background--smell_19-120332Prompt : Humans have a strong scent memory. Tell us about a smell that transports you.

 

I am nine again, or am I seven? It is Saturday morning and we are in that Okhoro house. Excited, even though we have no obvious reason to be. Our mouths leaning closer to laughterignoring all the logical reasons they should move in the other direction.

I am growing up with you again and everything is still a competition, but not the grown up kind. We go about it squealing, screaming, sometimes fighting, not really knowing what it meant or felt like to lose/to be a loser. Who dressed up the fastest? Who finished the meal the quickest? Who farted/belched the loudest? Whatever we picked, the end always brought laughter to us.

It is Cadbury breakfast Television again and all the anticipation that came before it. How we hurried to say our prayers and finish chores, so we could settle with our breakfast plates and sing goody-goody’s back or recite the words of the Eclairs advert from the warmth of our bellies.

It is morning and I am safe, lost in the time travel triggered by the smell of freshly baked bread. I am free and loved. Unburdened and untethered. There is innocence, and possibilities.

 

 

 

 

 

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JULY 29 : STATE OF YOUR YEAR.


bùi-linh-ngân_22see-told-ya-hes-late-again22_z0vnsq.jpg.jpegWrite up a mid-year “state of my year” post.

 

Well, this is a tough one, because for the most part, I feel like I was left behind in 2015. I failed to transition, failed to cross-over. This feeling is twisted around my ankles, and it clangs and clashes while I crawl; the theme music of the shamed left behinds.

 

I do not know about the state of my year, but i know that it has shown me that there is a lot about life, living, happiness, love, succeeding, being good and helpful, staying encouraged that I do not know.

 

I know laughter can be found in food and with the bringers of food.

 

A lot of things aren’t how you imagined they will be.

 

Work is hard, I am probably not strong and resilient enough to survive this earth.

 

Things pass, sometimes not soon enough.

 

The things I worried about last year still worry me.

 

I am way behind on targets, and that is okay.

 

Oh God, when last did I talk to you?

 

No money in my account but there is food in my belly. Ha!!!

 

Cutting down on my coke intake, drinking more water.

 

I am still angry all the damn time.

 

Loving more, carelessly, fearlessly, stupidly, because why not?

 

I don’t know, so far my year just is.

 

 

 

 

.

 

 

JULY 28 : LIFE AFTER BLOGS.


darya-anikina__ye1jrwq.jpg.jpegYour life without a computer: what does it look like?

It will look just the same, I think. I will still snooze my alarm like three times before I finally jump out of bed at about 7.30am. I will still shower and get dressed at the speed of light then make it to work almost in time. Time will still fly or crawl; whichever it is in the mood to do. I will still eat like six times before 6pm. I will still buy at least three pieces of meat with every meal. I may or may not have a coke, depending on where I am at in my healthy eating/living journey at that time. Also, depending on my level of frustration. I will still tweet. I will still google random stuff with my phone or my tablet. Where to watch my shows and movies might pose a little problem, but there will always be other options.

My laptop is one of the most dispensable things I own, it is amusing how unreasonably attached I am to it. I know for sure that my life will go on without any glitches if I stop having it, I want to have it forever.

Or until I can afford that MacBook.

 

 

 

(Inconsistency seems to be my curse. I am back now)

WALL TO WALL


Prompt : What do you display on the walls of your home – photos, posters, artwork, nothing? How do you choose what you display? What mood are you trying to create?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

I thought recently of having a dream wall, but I’m not sure how to represent the things I want in pictures, posters or artwork. And I thought about it as something I’ll do in the future, when I get my own place.

Having my own place is on its own, a dream. 

I don’t know if I have felt comfortable or stable enough in a place to decorate. I throw in the necessities and I’m good. All that extra I’m saving for when I can call a place my own. Home.

I wonder if that’s wise.

I have known for years the exact tattoos I want to get. My body is maybe the only true home I’ll ever get, and I know for certain I’m going to decorate it. It just doesn’t feel like it is time yet. I’m not there yet.

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This is supposed to mean no. (I say supposed because I have to confirm that it actually means that like twenty more times before I’ll be convinced. I don’t want to have one of those stories please). It is for the hardest lesson I have to keep on learning – to say no. Also the remind me that it is okay to say it, It doesn’t have to be followed or preceeded by an explanation. It is also Okay to receive it.

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This one is cliché but please ask me if I care. I’m getting it in this exact place to. There’s nothing stable, secure, certain or sure about this my seemingly directionless life of drifting. So, it is the symbol of everything I hope to be, to have and to give.

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This is supposed to mean light. That’s what I am, even on my darkest days. This is what will always win, even in the most desolate of all darkness.

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I’m undecided about this last one. A friend of mine is getting this soon. It is so pretty. It is a bird and it is music. I’m a bird and I’m music.

I don’t know when I will feel ready enough,  when I will have my own place or when I will be my own place. It is something to look forward to though, decorating.

ON A BUS


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I have a lot of memories attached to buses.

I was on a bus when it first dawned on me that I was going to be the farthest I have ever been from home, away from everything familiar. I was ten and on my way to begin my Secondary school education in Queens’ College, Lagos and I had no idea what to expect. I sat beside my dad at the back row of an Edegbe bus, he let me take the window seat which taught me my first Nigerian road travel lesson – avoid the seats just above the tyres. The most vivid parts of this first trip to Lagos that opened my eyes to the world that existed away from home were the toll-gate stops, the traders chasing cars with their wares; beautiful, yellow bananas and groundnuts that looked entirely different from the ones we had back home. I saw lepers for the first time. I remember reaching into my new purse to bring out money to buy some egg-rolls, because you see, for the very first time I had my own money. In my own purse. A whole seven hundred naira snuck into my palm by my mother, just for me. My father looked at me with disbelief asking “what are you doing?” and I remember being so confused because I thought it was very obvious, what I was doing. “I am bringing out my money to buy egg-roll”, I told him. He shook his head and said “My friend, you better put that thing back inside your purse. Who told you that you have money?” Then he reached into his pocket and paid for the egg-rolls. That exchange has stayed with me all this time, and I often turn it over and over in my head, trying to understand and find the meaning or the lesson I am convinced is hidden in it.

That route and the buses I entered became a steady part of that phase of my life. After that first trip, my travel companion was my older sister who attended the same school as me. Over time, the buses changed, services improved. From five passengers at the last row to four passengers, then for an extra five hundred naira the option of travelling in an air conditioned bus became available. What about the first time I entered a bus that had a television in it? I kept asking my rather impatient sister these stupid questions; where did they plug the TV or does it use batteries? How did they attach the Tv to the Bus? If you turn off the bus will the TV stop working? If you remove the Tv from the bus will it still work? Is it fair that the driver and passenger in front are unable to watch? Okay, where is the slot for DVD?

There was this time on the bus, I was so sleepy. My sister and I occupied two seats of the three-seater directly behind the driver. So there was nothing to lean on in front, by my left side was very unfriendly territory that my sister, she pushed my head away repeatedly, telling me “all you know is food and sleep”. Then on my right was unfamiliar territory in form of a young man in his twenties. He had headphones on and listened to music from a Discman, this already made me cool in my eyes. I tapped his thigh and he took off his headphones, without beating around the bush, I asked him if I could lean on his shoulders to sleep. He said I could and slouched a little to accommodate me. I leaned in and was out like a light in no time. I’m not sure how long I slept, but I woke up to my sister staring at me. “When are you going to grow up? When are you going to have sense? So you think it is okay, you think it is safe for you to just sleep on the body of strange men?” she asked. I was confused then, but I see her point now. That was the first time anybody has yelled at me in public, my first taste of public shame. It occurred to me only recently that the nice young man who responded to the debacle with silence shared in my embarrassment. I was twelve.

The bus also brought me my first my first kiss, or should I say my first kisser? I was in my last year of secondary school and I now travelled alone. My dad dropped me at the park that morning and he stayed till the bus got filled up and moved. This was quite unlike him, I was considered a big girl and a pro-traveler by this time so my parents had stopped doing stuff like that. Also, I knew he had an 8am lecture to give that morning and he was already late. Thinking back, I think he also noticed the light skinned young man that hadn’t stopped staring at me since I rolled my box to the bus. He also dropped someone off and was waiting for the bus to take off. I prayed and wished for my father to leave so the romance I could already smell in the air could take its natural course. But he did not, the bus moved and I was disappointed. About fifteen minutes into the journey, a lady passed me a piece of paper and said it was from her brother. Acting uninterested and puzzled was the hardest thing my fifteen year old self had done. It was the light skinned guy of course, his name was Romeo and he thought I was beautiful. I called him when I got to school, that was the start of the many long midnight calls and text messages declaring love. The kiss happened the next time I went home for holiday. I never saw him again after that one kiss, I wasn’t sure what exactly I was to do with him.

The bus also introduced me to Reggae music! I heard Buffalo soldiers on an intercity bus and it was such a strange but enjoyable sound, completely different from the Eminem and Kanye West I listened to in my prepubescent/pubescent years. That was the start of a brief but intense obsession with everything Reggae.

I was in a bus when I got a text from James informing me of the death of Michael Jackson. I realized then the reason MJ blared from the speakers of the bus, why heads were down and sighs were loud and heavy. It was a moment of shared grief, a connection between total strangers brought on by a loss that cut across time and age difference, speaking to a different place in all of us.

The bus has been my escape too many times. The entire days I spent jumping from bus to bus, trying to get lost in a city that knows my name, I entered a bus to Warri one time, then caught one going back to Benin less than five minutes after I got to Warri. I am not sure what was chasing me, only that I was being chased.

A bus preacher once implied I was possessed. He said “I see the demons fighting for dominion in your eyes, don’t you want to be delivered?” I hissed and put my earphones back on, hiding in the music I was forced to emerge from when I noticed a strange scruffy looking man gesticulating and pointing at me. How can you claim to be a prophet if all you do is state the obvious?

I don’t even want to go into the time the guy beside me chewed on my braids in the bus. Or the time I noticed a man had his penis out and was touching himself on the bus. Or the time the conductor tapped my ass as I alighted from his bus. Or more recently, the conductor that stretched his hands from his moving bus, reached me where I stood by the side of the road and grabbed the hell out of my left breast. I reacted to all these the same way I react to things I’m unable to comprehend, by not reacting.

I got my period on a bus to Lagos one time. I was traveling with my then boyfriend. We were close to Ore and we got there in time for me to sort out my business. Then I had to come back and endure the rest of the journey with the man I loved who was angry with me for not having the sense to stay back in Benin if I knew I was going to be menstruating during what was supposed to be our vacation. I begged and apologized for my irregular periods, telling him of all the other things we could do to each other. This was the beginning of a gradual falling, out and away from love.

I think I have found ‘love’ too on buses, the type that lasts only as long as that journey lasts, often leaving you wondering of what could be. There have been one or two strangers that tried to be more than that, failing to understand that not everything is made to last or exist outside of controlled spaces like buses. Or maybe they tried because they were unaware that I only flirt with love and real intimacy, I invite it over for drinks but I never let it stay the night.

Is this a lot to think about in the thirty seconds to one minute that drags on like elastic, just before the bus you are in collides with another bus? Is there enough time in the moment your life flashes before your eyes for you to wonder if you are also going to die on a bus?

THINGS I LOST.


Lost my praise more than once, I found it each time.
Lost my name in the same place I lost my aim.
Lost my sound soon after I lost my voice.
Lost my home and then I hit the road.
Lost the road and then I tried to fly.
Lost my wings.
Lost my heart.
Constantly losing my mind.
I pray to lose this life, that prayer is still unanswered.

SECOND TIME AROUND. 


Prompt : Tell us about a book you can read again and again without getting bored – what is it that speaks to you? 



                                       X

I first fell in love with Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre when I was about eleven. My father, as usual bought my required textbooks some days before I was to go back to the boarding house. I pushed the others aside like I was sorting through dirt and carefully picked out my literature  texts. They occupied the hallowed novel spot for novels beside my pillow, keeping me company at night. 

Jane Eyre was the last I read of the three literature texts (Bottled Leopard, Without a silver spoon and Jane Eyre), it had the least impressive cover and opening paragraph held no promise of inner beauty. Eventually, boredom won and I learned never to judge a book by its cover. 
It’s about fourteen years since I first read it, I have read it at least fourteen times and fallen in a different kind of love each time. It has not gotten old, I doubt it ever will. It’s my go-to book when I’m in a rut, when I’m sad, when I’m confused, when I have been studying excessively and I need something easy and not medicine related to clear my head, when I’m in love, when I fall out of love, when I doubt myself and even when I forget who I am. 

It’s a simple story. No layered plots or hidden agendas. The characters in this book have little or no complexities to them. They are who they are, transparently and unashamedly, even when it is ugly. It is a ‘what you see is what you get’ alternate reality and that is so comforting to me because real life is anything but that. People are hardly ever transparent or even simple. 

The clarity and awareness of self the main character (Jane Eyre) possesses from start to finish of the book makes my stomach turn with envy. Even when she had nothing and belonged to no one, she knew who and what exactly she was. She lived it too. 

Jane asked questions. All the time. She asked questions, even when was punished for it. She questioned herself, her love, her beliefs, her doubts. She asked questions not in the dodgy way people that really aren’t interested in truthful answers do. She questioned and didn’t hesitate to face the answers she got. She bodied this calm and stability that told nothing of the constant questions and struggle she internalized. 

I often wonder how she learned to love, to be kind, loyal and to forgive; giving what she scarcely received(until much later). 
I really love how the love/romance in this story is not the only or the main thing I see/feel. It’s first of all a book about a young lady overcoming obstacles, making something out of nothing as she figures life out. The rest comes after. 

Favorite quotes: 

  • “I’m no bird, and no net ensures me. I’m a free human being with an independent will”. 
  • “I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I’m,  the more I will respect myself” 
  • “Crying does not indicate that you are weak, since birth it has always been a sign that you are alive”. 
  • “I’m no angel. I’ll not be one till I die. I’ll be myself”. 
  • “Conventionality is not morality. Self-righteousness is not religion. To attack the first is not to assail the last” 
  • “He was the first to recognize me, and to love what he saw” 
  • “I could not help it, the restlessness was in my nature; it agitated me to pain sometimes”
  • “There is no happiness like that of being loved by your fellow creatures, and feeling that your presence is an addition to their comfort”. 

The end is different degrees of cheesy and  I could have done without that. Love it still.