Book Club: The death of Vivek Oji

They burned down the market on the day Vivek Oji died.

The quote above is the entirety of the first chapter. There is no spoiler alert needed; Vivek Oji dies in this book and the whole story takes us through the journey of his life until his death. It is reminiscent of Gabriel García Márquez’s Chronicle of a Death Foretold which I read almost a decade ago. We know from the start that there is a death but rather than remove the suspense it actually intensifies it- how did he die? Why did he die? What exactly happened?

The story of Vivek Oji’s death is told through multiple narratives (third person and then first person) and viewpoints while oscillating between the past and present. We are told early on that Vivek’s body was left in front of his parent’s house for his mother to find, and then the reader is sent on a journey through his life to find out the exact circumstances of his death. Vivek is born and raised in Eastern Nigeria to an Igbo father and Indian mother. He was born on the day his grandmother died, and the joy of his birth is dulled by the sorrow at her passing; a conflict that appears to plague him throughout his life.

“This is how Vivek was born, after death and into grief. It marked him, you see, it cut him down like a tree. They brought him into a home filled with incapacitating sorrow; his whole life was a mourning.”

He is of two cultures, but so are most of his friends courtesy of their mothers who are all foreigners married to Nigerian men. Also prominent is his life is his cousin Osita with whom he has a close bond. Vivek is prone to blackouts, during which he appears to disconnect from himself and reality, but the impression is that these are not caused by a medical issue but perhaps supernatural forces. He begins to disintegrate in a way that is not fully understandable and leaves his parents panicked and bewildered- he grows out his hair until he looks like a woman, refuses to eat, there are instances of him sleeping outside with the dogs and just general weirdness. Needless to say his parents are simultaneously annoyed and concerned. This leads to chaos within the external family as well as people throw in their two cents as they all try to get to the bottom of his strangeness. In the midst of all this is sex- Osita is having sex with his girlfriend and Vivek is watching, then Osita and Vivek are having sex, then Osita is having sex with someone else who kissed Vivek and this and that. Yes, the book contains incest, and it is presented in a normal casual way as though this is simply a queer relationship and not literal cousins exploring each others genitals. There is also the strong insinuation that Vivek is the reincarnation of his grandmother which then makes his relationship with his cousin even more concerning. Mama whatchu doing ma’am? All the way from the afterlife?

At the end we finally see how Vivek dies and it is up to the reader to decide whether the build up is worth is or not. It is a long windy spirally road to this point, and the death was perhaps not that dramatic as expected (some might say is that it?). Personally I largely enjoyed the journey and was not too put off by the eventual revelation.

The book has themes of homosexuality and gender identity, particularly in an environment and age that is not accepting of those who deviate from what is considered to be the norm. The writer does a good job of showing Vivek’s struggle as well as his family’s despair as they try to come to terms with his loss. His mother’s grief is particularly heart-wrenching.

One thing I will say about the book is that I enjoyed the writing and this is what kept me going. My attention was completely captured by the book even though the plot is not really my style- incest, casual sex, etc. I’ll admit that I found the story tedious after a while and I just wanted the truth to be revealed “get it over with already! damn.” The back and forth in viewpoints and timelines was annoying at times. I also did not really care for any of the characters, not even Vivek. The writing is beautiful and that’s was enough for me.

“I often wonder if I died in the best possible way — in the arms of the one who loved me the most, wearing a skin that was true.”

The death of Vivek Oji was written by Nigerian Author Awaeke Emezi and published in 2020.

London day out.

Every now and then, I leave my house. It is so infrequent that I can compile all the experiences in this one post.

First I went to Fashion Freakshow by Jean-Paul Gaultier. I first heard of the show last year and was interested, but never actually got to go during its run. When I saw that it was back this year I was determined not to miss it again so I grabbed my friend and off we went! I had no idea what the show was about and therefore had no expectations. Tickets were relatively cheap so I thought hey, nothing to lose.

The show celebrates the life and career of legendary French fashion designer and Madonna cone bra creator Jean-Paul Gaultier. It starts from his childhood-we see little Jean-Paul getting in trouble for designing women’s clothes during class, to his first foray into designing. There is dancing, there is singing, there is nudity, there is beaucoup de fashion darling! “Anna Wintour” even makes an appearance. The show is colourful, flamboyant, camp, gay as hell and all round fabulous. My favourite part was a striptease by a voluptuous redhead. She was stunning and I was transfixed. I also enjoyed the contortionist. Oh how can I forget the fashion show narrated by Catherine Deneuve? That was also a highlight; the names of the outfits, the walks, the transitions, the actual outfits? It was a riot. I want a clip of that part on its own to watch over and over again.

All in all, I enjoyed the show and was happy I went. I even got a free condom.

From there, we met up with other friends at Chukus, a Nigerian tapas place we had been DYING to try for ages. After a lot of back and forth, we finally got to try it and it met all of my expectations. I love trying out restaurants, particularly those offer new and innovative interpretations of food. Some call it pretentious and maybe it is, but I love it.

I had tried to book ahead for another outing but I had to pay a deposit of £100 for 6 people and I decided not to. This time we just rocked up hoping for the best and we were rewarded with a table. The restaurant is quite small; maybe sits no more than twenty people. The vibe is nice enough, there are Nigerianisms everywhere, including a small collection of Nigerian books. I was happy to see that I have read most of the books.

My favourite thing was the cassava fries. As a lover of fried yam I knew I was going to love this and it met my expectations. The adalu (beans and corn) was also good which was surprising as I always talk about how I hate corn in beans. Growing up I hated when my mum cooked beans and I excitedly went to get a plate only to see corn in it. Whyyyyy? Turns out I was the dummy. It’s not bad. I ate it with the fried plantain mixed in cinnamon. The Sinasir & Miyan Taushe was a revelation. These are rice pancakes common in Northern Nigeria. We were not going to order them but the woman who took our order recommended it and I am glad she did. It was so good. The moin-moin was the cutest moin moin I have ever seen and it tasted good. The jollof quinoa was another thing I was not interested in but my friend ordered it and it was good. At the last minute I decided to order the caramel kuli kuli chicken wings because no one was picking up on my hints. It was nice enough. We also had suya meatballs (I generally do not like meatballs so I only had a small bite and it was alright. The sauce went well with the cassava fries), and honey suya prawns (not bad but not memorable.) The lamb asun was one thing I was eager to try but it was the most disappointing part of the menu; we found it quite dry. Strangely enough all the food we enjoyed the most were vegetarian/vegan so it turns out we could actually have a full Nigerian meal with no meat/fish. We had zobo and chapman and I finally decided on the age long battle (in my mind) between the two: Chapman wins every time. No contest. There was Nigerian beer and £3 glass bottles of water.

I was intrigued by the dessert menu and made my friends order one of each so we could try all three options. We got the yam brownie, chin chin cheesecake and plantain waffles. I was most interested in the yam brownie and it was alright but I couldn’t really eat much of it. Not for me. My friends however thought that was the best dessert. The plantain waffles just tasted like plantain but I liked the flavour of the ice-cream that came with it. I don’t have any memory of the cheesecake but I think it was okay.

Not much more to say, here are some pictures.

I thoroughly enjoyed myself and I am glad I did not let the rail strikes derail my plans. I had to go into London on Wednesday to stay with my friend as tube and rail strikes meant I would not have been able to get in to London on Saturday. It was a last minute hassle which was totally worth it.

This was almost a month ago and I have not left the house since.

Book Club: His Only Wife

Elikem married me in absentia; he did not come to our wedding.

This book grabs attention from the first line which is always a promising sign. Published in 2020, His Only Wife is the debut novel from Ghanaian writer Peace Adzo Mezie. The book is written from the first person viewpoint of Afi Tekple, a young aspiring seamstress who lives in the small country town of Ho with her widowed mother. Afi’s life has been tough; her father’s untimely death snatched the rug from underneath their feet and sent them from a comfortable life to one of penury. In true Nolly/Ghollywood fashion, Afi and her mum receive no help from her father’s brother, and they are forced to fend for themselves. Help comes from Faustina Ganyo, a wealthy woman who gives Afi’s mother a job and a place to live. The Tekples feel indebted to her and when the chance comes to repay the favour they jump on it. All Afi has to do is marry Faustina’s son Elikem, who she has never met before, and be transported Cinderella style into wealth and comfort. Oh just one thing, Elikem is already with a Liberian woman with whom he has a sick daughter. The Ganyos claim this Liberian woman is a thorn in the flesh of the family; she has kept Elikem away from his family and must have bewitched him. She makes his life hell and is a terrible mother; she is a cow, she is a snake, she is the bride of chucky. Afi’s role is to lure Eli away from her.

Despite her trepidations Afi agrees to the wedding and is wed traditionally to Elikem who does not attend the ceremony but is instead represented by his brother. She then moves to the city of Accra where she is upgraded into luxury- nice flat, a driver, staff, regular allowances, enrolment in fashion school etc, but no husband. Personally this seemed like a sweet deal to me, but Afi has been sent there on a mission and the Ganyos are constantly checking in for progress updates. Plus Afi herself wants her husband which is understandable. Eventually Elikem blesses her with his presence and Afi falls madly in love with the sweet handsome man. However it never truly feels like he belongs to her, and the scent of the Liberian wife is always in the air. This causes Afi a lot of sadness as she searches for her place in his life, unwilling to share her husband with another woman.

This book started off really good and I was completely engrossed. The pace is nice and the writing is easy to follow which all together makes it a pleasant enough book to read. However somewhere towards the end the writing got derailed in a way; it seemed the writer got tired of painting a picture and just decided to breeze through the rest of the story. There was a lot of telling rather than showing in the final part of the book; short abrupt sentences- and then and then and then. It was quite rushed and all the facts were just dumped on us. In the later chapters the writer had this habit of fast-forwarding into the future, and then giving a summary of what happened. I did not like this. I wanted to be there in the thick of the action. There was a moment of tension between Afi and Elikem and I read through hungrily waiting for the explosion and was rewarded with “a few days after….” We skipped a whole year from the end of chapter ten to the beginning of chapter 11. I did not enjoy all of this at all and after a while I just wanted the book to end.

The plot twist (if it can be called that) at the end should have been brought forward to a much earlier point of the story and the Liberian woman’s story should have been explored more. I would have liked to see things from her viewpoint. By the time she comes into the story, the book is over and there is no time for the readers to process her as a character.

As the protagonist, I was initially sympathetic to Afi’s plight and was on her side, but as things progressed I grew tired of her as well. She was illogical and lacked common sense. I did not understand this love she felt for Elikem- maybe the writer should have taken more time to build this love for the readers. This is another example of the readers being told something rather than been shown. When Afi was talking about her heartbreak I skipped past it as it seemed so put on. I was also confused at her annoyance at the other woman. Ma’am you knew he had a woman when you agreed to marry him; in fact she was there first, doesn’t that make you the other woman?

The book is pure Nollywood- prince marries the village girl but with a twist. A lot of things came so easily to Afi that it seems unrealistic. There are also some characters which should have been developed better or left out altogether as they did not add anything to the story.

It is interesting to see the power the mother has over the whole family, and how these grown men remain under her control. This is even more surprising as the men appear to be independently wealthy. Usually this control is effective because the parent controls the purse-strings and the children do not want to be cut off but in this case the sons are instrumental in the success of the family operation so I don’t understand their foolish obeisance. The whole idea of marrying a wife for their son to get rid of another wife never made sense; did they think he would be so enamoured with the new wife and then forget the existing one? As though he is kept in a cage and has never seen another woman before. Elikem did not go to the wedding which to me suggests he has some defiance in him; he also maintains separate accommodation with the Liberian woman and never truly gives in to his family which made me wonder why he did not just go all the way and stand his ground. Another interesting thing is the dichotomy of good and evil and how both can exist in the same person. Faustina helps so many people without explicitly asking anything in return yet it turns out all the kindness is in return for slavish devotion and those who deviate from this face her wrath.

Aside from the issues mentioned, I did enjoy reading His Only Wife and I found it interesting. Nothing major happens; it is more like a gossip session with an aunt or cousin in which she is telling you all about that thing that happened in the family. It is nice, easy and pleasant. This was my first time reading a book set in Ghana and I did enjoy the peek into some Ghanaian cultures. At the risk of being rude, it is obvious that this is a debut novel, but it is a strong one and I look forward to reading more from this writer.

The writer does a good job showing the class divide, as well as the expectations of women, particularly within marriage. None of this was shocking to me, and to be honest even the first line about the groom not attending the wedding was not odd. I have not personally attended any such weddings but I have seen enough weddings in which the groom or even the couple did not attend the wedding. Strange but not that uncommon in Nigeria and I guess Ghana as well.

Ask any woman if she loved her husband before she got married or even if she loves him now.

Afi, even if he is with another woman, it is not the end of this world. Which man, especially one like your husband does not have another woman?

…I’m not interested in receiving any more advice or encouragement. What kind of marriage is this? Afi, do this and he will choose you. Afi, do that and you will win. Is he a husband or a prize? Ah ma, I’m tired, I’m tired.

I cannot end this without writing about my intense irritation at what must be one of the most irritating characters ever- Toga Pious. Ugh! He is the very embodiment of the greedy uncle that is commonplace in Nollywood- the uncle who is envious of his brother and does nothing to help his brother’s widow but is there on the day of celebration to eat and collect everything. He was a minor character but every time he appeared I rolled my eyes and kissed my teeth. I hated him and I longed for Afi to tell him to piss off. I was actually waiting for it to be revealed that he had something to do with the death of Afi’s father but alas this was not a Nollywood flick.

Book Club: Girl with the Louding Voice

We all be speaking different because we all are having different growing-up life, but we can all be understanding each other if we just take the time to listen well.

“…who knows what else tomorrow will bring? So, I nod my head yes, because it is true, the future is always working, always busy unfolding better things, and even if it doesn’t seem so sometimes, we have hope of it.”

It was dislike at first sight. “What the hell is a louding voice?” I shrieked, quite unnecessarily, to my friend when I first came across the book in her room. “Is it a typo? Surely they mean loud voice?” It was her who informed me that the book is written primarily in Nigerian pidgin English, which for no reason at all annoyed me even more. I was hating heavily. A year went by and I came across the book in another friend’s house. At this point I decided to pause my pettiness and just read the book. A few pages in, I decided to order my own copy to my house and I am glad I did.

The Girl with the Louding Voice, published in 2020, is the debut novel by Nigerian writer Abi Dare. The book is from the first person viewpoint of Adunni nosurname, a fourteen year old girl trying to survive in a rural Nigerian village with no mother and a daft father. Adunni is a bright intelligent girl, whose potential is unfortunately stifled by poverty and ignorance. In an environment where the girlchild is not valued, she wants more for herself and hopes to achieve it through education. This mindset is birthed by her mother who fantasises of the life she could have had if she had been educated, and wants to ensure her daughter’s life does not end up the same way.

In this village, if you go to school, no one will be forcing you to marry any man. But if you didn’t go to school, they will marry you to any man once you are reaching fifteen years old. Your schooling is your voice, child. It will be speaking for you even if you didn’t open your mouth to talk. It will be speaking till the day God is calling you come.

That day I tell myself that even if I am not getting anything in this life, I will go to school. I will finish my primary and secondary and university schooling and become teacher because I don’t want to be having any kind of voice …. I want a louding voice.

As Adunni’s mother lay dying she makes her husband promise to allow their daughter complete her education. Unsurprisingly, her lazy no-good father reneges on his promise and marries her off to his age-mate in order to pay off his debts.

I have a fine girl child at home. At your age, you are not suppose to be in the house You are suppose to have born at least one or two children by this time.

Understandably Adunni is devasted and outraged by this, and tries her hardest to avoid this fate. Despite her protests, she is married off to a nauseating oaf who already has two wives, four daughters (one of them her own age) and is in search of a wife to give him a son. The whole thing is stomach churning.

Just yesterday Morufu tell me that if you manage and give him a boy as first born, he will give me ten thousand naira.

“This is your wife now, from today till forever, she is your own. Do her anyhow you want. Use her till she is useless! May she never sleep in her father house again!” and everybody was laughing and saying, “Congra-lations! Amen! Congra-lations!”

This begins a descent into a life of strife and sorrow; and sets off a series of events that takes Adunni’s young life, already filled with so much sadness, into the abyss of despair. Life with Morufu is unbearable and Adunni tries to make the best of things until an unfortunate incident forces her to flee and somehow she ends up in Lagos. A new city brings little relief, as the abuse and unfairness continues. But Adunni is resilient and has a louding voice so she manages to persevere.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I could hardly stand to put it down. In one word-riveting. The story is moving, and covers everything from poverty, child marriage, marital rape, lack of access to education and medical care, abuse, child labour. There is so much sadness in this book, made more heart-breaking by the age of the protagonist. She is literally a child. Some parts are difficult to read but there are also lots of light moments which made me laugh. I felt all the emotions reading this book. This is the reality of so many young girls worldwide, and I am so privileged to not experience any of that. It is a really good book.

One thing stuck out to me- though Adunni’s life is hard, she always manages to encounter help through a friendly face. There is a lot that happens, and in every situation she finds that she is not alone. Despite the challenges that she faces, she maintains her fierce determination for education and louding voice, which endears her to other characters and the reader as well. She is also funny.

In the end I did not mind that the book was in pidgin. I did however note that the language was not consistent, which was bound to happen. The idea is that Adunni is barely literate and so cannot speak proper English hence the use of pidgin, however there are times that the pidgin slips. For example:

“My mama is nothing but a sweet memory of hope, a bitter memory of pain, sometimes a flower, other times a flashing light in the sky.”

I don’t believe the sentence above was constructed by someone who says “louding voice” and “Free” instead of freedom. It does not compute. Even the two quotes at the beginning of the post This is only a minor point however, and it did not take away from the greatness of the book. I would have happily read another hundred pages to get a resolution on everything that happened (and there was a lot) but sometimes imagination is best.


“A day will come when my voice will sound so loud all over Nigeria and the world of it, when I will be able to make a way for other girls to have their own louding voice, because I know that when I finish my education, I will find a way to help them to go to school.”



Mood.

Sometimes I feel like a caretaker of a museum; a huge, empty museum where no one ever comes and I am watching over it for no one but myself.- Haruki Murakami

I cannot rid myself of the feeling that I am not in the right place-Franz Kafka

I always wonder why birds choose to stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on the earth. Then I ask myself the same question- Harun Yahya

I need days when I can be alone, to think, to daydream-Margarita Karapanou

I swear to you that to think too much is a disease, a real actual disease- Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

I don’t know who I am, where I am going- and I am the one who has to decide the answers to these hideous questions.-Sylvia Plath

The other day, lying in bed, felt my heart beating for the first time in a long while. I realized how little I live in my body, how much in my mind. –Rodger Kamenetz

I desire very little, but the things I do consume me.-Beau Taplin

I want so much that is not here and do not know where to go- Charles Bukowski

What you seek is seeking you-Rumi

Forever I am that girl.

“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit”
― E.E. Cummings

In the midst of all the angst and anguish that plague us as young-ish adults trying to navigate this minefield called life, it is easy to forget to celebrate our wins. I know this first-hand. There are so many uncertainties, so many decisions to be made that I find myself in a state of constant stress and anxiety. By the time I actually achieve something, all I feel is mild relief and I am not able to super bask in my accomplishment because I am already worrying about the next thing. I downplay all my achievements, it’s crazy. All the “omg congratulations! so proud of you” just slide off me like water. Nothing is a big deal to me anymore. Only the stress and anxiety exist. I am so hard on myself that I forget that I really am that girl.

A few months back I decided to start looking for a new job. I had been complaining about my current job for almost two years now; I actually came across a chat with my friend in November 2020 when I was complaining about being sick and tired of the work. I finally decided to stop living in a funk and actually send out my CV and respond to a few of the recruiters in my messages. I would always joke that the only reason I stayed at my job for so long was because I could not be bothered to go through the interview process. The thought of prepping for an interview frightened me. Let me just stay in this place please, after-all no one is chasing me. I am lucky to even have a job and a job is a job so might as well stay here.

Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.

As I wrote in my last post, I am very motivated when I am working towards something otherwise I am just dormant and inert. Once I gave myself the all clear I started responding to recruiters and sending my CVs to employers. I chose the wrong time to go through this- I was in the middle of a very busy work season so I was stressed out to the max. I had to schedule interviews around client meetings, team calls, and office visits. There was one time I kept working until about 10 minutes to an interview and then quickly got ready for the interview and immediately went back to work. It was wild. Also made me wonder how people went out for job interviews pre-zoom/teams. How many sick days could you take before it got suspicious? Anyway, I did four interviews and told myself no mas!; I would continue (if needed) after the busy season was done. Long story short, I got two job offers at the places I wanted (the other two were really just for practice). Not only did they give me offers, they were both really impressed by me and really really wanted me. Like all the things that I fear, the interview process turned out not to be that scary. In addition to this, my current company is desperate to keep me and sad to see me go. I had to acknowledge that I really am that girl. Such a good boost to my ego and esteem. But of course rather than bask in this, I spent all the time stressing over what to do and which offer to choose. I was so bloody stressed. Looking back now, I should have just relaxed and enjoyed being wanted. I should have been patting myself on the back for getting myself a new job but no all of that paled in comparison to the unbearable stress of trying to make a decision. My friends were all oh congratulations girl! and I was like “meh. thanks.” Now I’m thinking about how great it is that I wanted better for myself and went out and got it. Thank you God.

The interview process was very much needed because it reminded me of how capable I am. When you are in one place for too long it is easy to forget who you are and even start to think you don’t have anything to offer. You read a job description and shrink in fear because surely you are not up to par. Thankfully I have never let that stop me from sending over my CV- let them filter me out if I don’t have the required skills-but still it is easy to let the fear take over. However after the first couple of interviews I got a hang of the whole thing. By the time I got to the interview for the fourth company, I was so calm and relaxed; I went from trying to impress them to also interviewing them to ensure they would be a good fit. I have options, okay Dah-ling?

Sometimes the fear does not go away so you have to do afraid.

I have achieved so many things in my life but I sometimes don’t give them the respect they deserve. This may also be the problem with being a high achiever; my expectations are so high that everything seems insignificant. I see all these achievements as the norm, nothing out of the blue, nothing that has not been done before and so I do not often celebrate myself as I should. I just never give myself enough props. Even at work I am full of anxiety and when I have to juggle more than one thing I start to panic that I’m not meeting expectations and blah blah; then I see other people’s work and realise I don’t respect myself enough. After bouts of panic and anxiety, things always resolve them and I find out that I have panicked for no reason (yet again). The truth is that I am highly regarded at work and always get performance bonuses. I am literally that girl.

There are so many examples of me downplaying myself and not acknowledging my strengths. I was watching this vlog in which the girl talked about how she moved from the UK to Germany for work, and I started to wish I was more adventurous like that. Why couldn’t I do such things like moving to a different country for work? I need to stop being so boring and dull. Blah blah. It took me a minute to remind myself that I am literally in a different country ALL BY MYSELF WITH NO SINGLE FAMILY MEMBER. I moved to a different country (continent even) at 15 BY MYSELF for university and again (to another continent) at 21 for Masters degree and work. How dare I say I have not done anything adventurous? I need to rate myself more highly. By the Grace of God I have achieved a MSc with distinction, got a distinction in my dissertation (another source of angst), got a good job, a place to live, passed my professional exams, another job, permanent residency etc. I have actually tried for myself. There’s obviously more that I want for myself but while the fact that there is still more to do does not mean that a lot has not already been achieved. This reminds me of the time I started a post with the intention of writing about my birthday depression and how I have never had a good birthday only to walk down memory lane and realise I have had nothing but good birthdays. A mess.

Another memorable moment was a few years ago when I booked a trip to Canada to see my sister. I think this was the first trip I booked by myself; and I booked the flight through a third party site. To get a cheaper price I booked a flight with a layover in the USA. No problem, until I got to the airport and was told I could not board as I did not have a USA Visa. M’excuse me? I am not going to the US of A, it’s just a layover and I would not be leaving the airport. It didn’t matter. I could not board that flight. My day was ruined and my disappointment immeasurable. How was this possible? I had paid for accommodation and was looking forward to spending time with my sweet sister. I called my dad, who was in town at the time staying in a hotel and he said well come back you can go another time. Excuse you sir? I am going to Canada one way or the other. I managed to get another flight which was eye-wateringly expensive but listen I was going to Canada. My father always refers to that moment- how proud he was of my tenacity and resolve. Now again I didn’t see it as anything.

My first term in boarding school was unpleasant. I did not like the seniority system and the way the seniors had power over us; the bullying and nastiness was unacceptable. I missed my family terribly and just did not want to be there anymore. So I decided I would not. At the end of the first term, I packed everything I owned, including those things that had been purloined by seniors (I literally went through their lockers for my stuff) and said goodbye to that place. Looking back, I am amazed at my resolve. I was not going back. That was it. I did not even discuss it with my parents beforehand. Just got home and told them I am not going back. My dad was perplexed and tried to push back but listen, I am indecisive and fearful but once my mind is made up it is made up. At the time I did not think much of it, but I occasionally look back at this moment as a testament to my resolve. So many times I wish I was more this and less that; it turns out I am already all of that, if the situation calls for it. Everything I need is already in me. I just need to put myself in situations that stimulate me more and use my talents.

I am that girl. The one and only. Powerful beyond my presumed limitations and capable of actualising my wildest dreams. I just need to stop worrying so much and doubting myself. Sweet girl you have achieved so much and you are capable of even more. Nothing is out of your reach, nothing is impossible for you. You are that girl.

Why are you running?

When I watched the Nollywood film titled Pretty Liars (no relation to Pretty Little Liars), I had no way of knowing that that one scene (you know the one I’m talking about) would go on to become an iconic meme. Today when I sat to write this post, that is the first thing that came to my mind. Why are you running?

See I have been running for a long time now. Running even though no one was chasing. I have always been in a hurry to get through the stages of life. It may have started when I skipped grade 6 and went straight to secondary school at nine years old. I turned 16 in my first term at University, completed all my credits at 19, and by 22 I had my Master’s degree and was starting my career. At university I took summer classes every year to speed things up so I could graduate in three years instead of four. When it was all over, I sat with myself and asked the question “Now what? What’s next? Why were you in a hurry?

The sad truth is that I should have enjoyed the journey more, rather than rushing to the destination. It would have been nice to have taken the time to smell the petunias. At the end of it all I am grateful for everything, and I’m not going to dwell mindlessly on the past; still it is good (important even!) to reflect. Did it matter if I graduated at 19 instead of 21? By the grace of God, we all reached the destination, and it did not matter how long it took. I was so engrossed in just getting it all over with, that I never even stopped to consider what the point was, and what the plan was after everything was ticked off.

For so long it was just “on to the next”. I was ticking things off robotically like I was collecting infinity stones (I only know this reference thanks to social media. I have not watched the film), and when it was done I felt so terribly lost and confused. What now? I had not thought beyond the destination, forgetting that life is not one destination but one long never ending journey with some pitstops. After my final summer semester in which I got the final credits for my bachelor’s degree in summer school, I remember sitting in my room in University, completely overwhelmed by the rest of my life staring down at me. I had reached the end of the race in record time and there was still the rest of my life to deal with. For years I had known what the next step was-midterms, exams, summer school etc. That was the first time that all certainty was gone- there was nothing set for me to do next, the decision was all mine and I was petrified. I was technically an adult now and had to decide what to do next, yet I still felt like a child. After graduation I just laid around and waited for someone to tell me what to do next. That was one of the more depressing periods of my life. I remember one day my mother scolded me for loafing around saying “do you know you are a graduate now?But I’m still a child, I thought. How am I supposed to make all these decisions? In a way I am still that child, and I struggle sometimes with making serious life decisions because I’m just a baby haha.

For a long time now I have been in a rut. Well actually maybe for the past 2.5 years because before then I had professional exams that I was working towards (again rush rush get it all done in one go no resits hello anxiety). These exams were not fun by any means but the stress, anxiety, adrenaline provided something other than inertia. After those were done and dusted, life returned to this long monotonous bore as there was nothing I was working towards or looking forward to. It’s weird that in writing this, I have managed to partially diagnose myself; I need something to work towards and for the past couple of years I have not had that, hence the funk.

I have started implementing changes in my life, and the main one is that I have found a new job. For some people this is not a big deal, but for me it is the biggest of deals. I just could not deal with the monotony anymore and I wanted something fresh. Now I realise that even the new job by itself may not provide me with a completely new fresh lease on life. There are two reasons for this; the first is the feeling that while this is a change, it is still not my purpose. I may never truly feel light and happy with work until I am doing something that feeds my spirit. The second, which I literally just realised while writing this post, is that unless I am working towards something, life is dull and monotonous. So this new job is not going to automatically lift my spirits, because if care is not taken I risk falling into the same rut. Still it is a much needed change. I just have to be intentional about this.

Taking this leap feels scary, but also empowering and liberating. If this job does not work out, I will get another one. Now that I know better, I will try to be more mindful of my life. There is a thin line between doing too much and not doing enough. I want to get a promotion within a year of my new job, but I also want to chill and take everything in stride. The next big girl decision is to get a new place to stay, but with rising costs of everything the situation is dire, and it may be better to just stay put. Still I feel better than I have felt in a while, and for now that is enough.

Why are you running? Take the time to enjoy the journey, admire the scenery, smell the roses. You will get there in the end, there’s no need to rush.

Netflix and Chill: Ghosts of Cite Soleil.

When one door closes, another one opens. All the doors are closed for me.

I will watch anything that is true crime, even more so if there is actual footage and not just re-enactments. and so when this was recommended to me by Netflix I immediately added it to my list. Even before I pressed play I just knew I would enjoy it, and I did.

It reminded me of the Brazilian Epic film City of God which is one of the most memorable films ever. Set in Cite Soleil, a slum in Haiti once referred to as the most dangerous place on earth, the documentary chronicles the lives of gangsters known as Chiméres (ghosts/fire breathing dragons) who serve as the Secret army of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. In particular, the story follows two of the gang chiefs, brothers Winston “2pac” Jean, and James “Bily” Petit-Frere for a few months in 2004 around the time Aristide is overthrown. 2pac is the older of the two, and unsurprisingly wants to become a rapper; his little brother Bily has more grandiose dreams of joining the ruling party and becoming president one day. They are all servants of Aristide, a bug eyed accountant looking man who does not blink. 2pac has spent two years in Prison during which he lost all illusions about Aristide’s government. Bily is still a devoted believer in Aristide. This, amongst other things, leads to tensions between the brothers.

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Self care vs Self Destruction

Treat yo self!

Even before Tom Haverford and Donna Meagle introduced us to the Treat Yo’Self day on the hit show Parks and Recreation, social media has been awash with the self care craze.

Tom describes the day: “Treat. Yo. Self. Once a year, Donna and I spend a day treating ourselves. What do we treat ourselves to? Clothes. Treat yourself. Fragrances. Massages. Treat yourself. Mimosas. Fine leather goods…It’s the best day of the year.

I always try to do self-care but thanks to my anxiety I never truly feel relaxed. My laziness also deserves a shout-out because why leave my room for a deep tissue massage when I can stew in bed and watch Netflix all day? I so badly want a carefree day with a full body massage, facial, body scrub, manicure and pedicure, but I end up painting my nails at home and ordering food. Ooooooh food 🙂 That is my form of self-care “You’ve been feeling depressed and anxious lately, cheer yourself up by ordering take-out, treat yo’self!”; “yes get sweets and chocolate, you’ve had a stressful week, treat yo’self!” “Don’t stress yourself cooking. Just order more food. You deserve it. Treat yo’self!” “Don’t worry about all the sugar and the havoc it’s wreaking in your skin and waistline. Treat yo’self!”

In recent times I have been so stressed and anxious that I have treated myself more often than usual, and it all has to do with food. I have not cooked dinner in quite a while now because I have just placed an order on deliveroo or went out to get food (it’s okay treat yo’self!). Even though I try to stay away from sugar, every now and then I get junk from the store (you are so stressed babe treat yo’self!). My stomach has been permanently bloated for weeks and my skin is in shambles.

I am starting to think that perhaps these are not actually acts of self-care but rather tiny acts of self-destruction borne out of boredom and loneliness. Whoa that took a turn. In one of my last posts, ironically also about self care, I wrote about how I started obsessing over Indian food because I watched a YouTube video about it and went and bought a bunch of Indian food. I did end up enjoying it, but I did have a moment when I asked myself why I did that. There I was in bed (where I’d been all weekend) watching telly with a plate of dry biriyani, I did not feel relaxed or refreshed, my self did not feel taken care of.

It is so much easier said than done; but I would really like to have a self care day complete with all the works. A full day with candles, nice smells, perfect temperature, a full body scrub, deep tissue massage, deep cleansing facial, spa manicure and pedicure, culminating in a deep restful sleep. When I awake I want to feel light and reborn. I want to have no worries and stress, and I want my skin to be clear and beautiful.

Yesterday I decided to start living the life I’m dreaming of and actually booked an appointment to do my nails. I am happy I did this and I lurrrveeee my nails. I like them so much that I decided to create a monthly budget for doing my nails and other self-care related activities. As a big babe there is really no reason for my nails to be raggedy and doing them myself is not a vibe. Next stop is booking a facial and body scrub/massage. Then a staycation! All I need is to stop dreaming about it and just do it.

I feel better already. I also went out and got myself candles, diffusers, and nice room sprays. Every time I catch a whiff of the scent my mood is lifted. I was feeling a bit stressed about a decision I had to make but instead of stewing in it and letting it ruin my day, I called a friend of mine to discuss this. She gave the best advice and now I feel more confident and less worried. Henceforth, my acts of self-care must be intentional and result in me feeling better. No longer shall self care revolve around food (unless that makes me feel better which let’s be honest it usually will).

Ah the joys of adulthood.

Make up your mind.

“I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”
― Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

One thing about me? I am indecisive. It is top ten most annoying things about me. I recently had a job interview and I was asked what my weakness was and without hesitation I immediately mentioned my indecisiveness (of course taking care to emphasise how I am working on it). Funny enough, I had just been thinking about my indecisiveness before the interview so I had my answer ready to go. Nice looking out God.

Yesterday I was fed up with myself and had to ask myself what exactly my problem was. I had gone to get some cookies that I really had no business eating (I’m a sugar addict, send help). Even though this was my third time in a week getting these cookies, and I had been deliberating over the choice of cookie flavours all day before leaving my house, I still found myself at the cookie shop second guessing myself and asking the shop attendant to decide between two flavours for me. Even as she was bagging up the cookies and ringing up the order I had half a mind to ask her to make some changes. I finally made my decision and walked out of the shop completely insecure about my choices. I just felt uncomfortable. After walking on for about five minutes with this sinking feeling in my belly, I said to myself “girl what’s your problem? It’s a fecking cookie for goodness sakes. You’ve been here three times already, you should know what cookies you like by now. Even if you don’t like it so what? it’s just a cookie! Damn. You weirdo!” That’s what what I needed to hear (lol) and I immediately felt better and the sinking feeling was gone.

My indecision is tightly woven into the very fabric of my being and it drives me insane. Everything has to be second guessed. There are times when my heart screams yes! and I don’t have to question anything but those times are few and far in between. I don’t know what it is I am so afraid of. I am afraid of making the wrong decision, that much is clear, but most of these decisions are not even a matter of life and death, they literally do not matter. Yet I waste precious finite time agonising over them. It is infuriating. I need to learn how to manage this. Most of the time when I am being indecisive I am not making any concrete thinking or weighing the options with any intelligence; I am simply just being indecisive and stressing myself out.

What are you so afraid of? What are the consequences of buying a cookie that you do not like? It’s flour and sugar, you will most likely eat it all. If I was a therapist here is the point I would try to make a link between my fear of making mistakes and some repressed trauma from childhood Are you afraid that your parents made a mistake in marrying each other and making you thus injecting in you this abject fear of making decisions out of fear that you make the wrong one and ruin your life and possible end humanity as we know it? For a while my indecision made sense to me; of course I have to spend half an hour deciding what to eat at this restaurant only to end up ordering the wrong thing anyway because if I don’t like my food then I will have wasted my money and not be satisfied. Then I am hungry and without my money. But it just grew and grew and took over my life like a venom coursing through the bloodstream. In many ways I feel like a child who has been ushered into adulthood without any guidance and I need my mummy (or some other responsible adult) to make decisions for me. The fact that it is EYE who have to make these decisions is bewildering.

This also means I have an issue with execution. I want to do something, and I have the ideas but I just let them float about in my head without actually doing anything. For example, I volunteered to plan social events for my work team. I sat with these ideas for ages not daring to make any decisions on my own. I needed someone else, preferably a higher up in the team, to discuss the ideas with and to get their backing before going on to plan the event and notify the whole team. I could not bring myself to decide for the team; if possible I wanted to ask each person what they wanted and get a general understanding before even sending out an email. Again I am like a child that needs mummy to hold my hand. Then I got two emails from other people on the team with their executed social plans: “Hey guys we are planning a bowling outing. Let me know if you’re interested!” Simple pimple. I felt so bad, the way I do when I feel I have failed at a task and someone else has had to take over. I imagine someone rolling their eyes saying “this girl is not forthcoming with any ideas let me just go ahead and plan something.”

My indecision is never more evident than on my birthday. Oh my word. I want to do so many things but will my friends be able to make it will it be convenient for them will they be willing to spend this much money on my birthday will they….? The result of which is that I end up being incredibly stressed out by my approaching birthday and sometimes I find myself with no birthday plans, just alone and depressed. A few years ago my friend said “Just tell us what you want to do for your birthday and we will let you know if we can participate.” Those words have stuck in my mind. I did go ahead and share my plans and they turned up, spent the money and I was happy. The crazy thing is that when my friends have plans I always show up, so I don’t know why I run myself ragged trying to decide on what is best for everyone without even first letting people know what I want.

Recently I went house hunting and found one that was alright and ticked most of my boxes. I could have made a decision there and then but of course I had to “sleep on it” and by that I mean not make a decision and hope the universe somehow makes it for me. It was not until the estate agent called me to say the flat had been taken that I started to have real regrets. I still have not able to find any place as good, and I am completely fed up with my current place. I was not making constructive points about what I needed to know to make a decision about the flat. I was just hmmmmn I don’t know. It still pisses me off to think about it. In this case the reason for my indecision was “What if I settle and something better comes along?” A stupid thought, given that I had been searching for ages and hadn’t found anything.

In the job interview, I said that I am learning to deal with my indecision by first carefully considering all possible outcomes and the consequences of each. In effect, what is the worst that could happen? I also said that I need to communicate more with those around me, rather than wallowing in isolation. Most of these decisions do not need to be made by myself alone, there is nothing wrong in seeking advice and help from others. A problem shared is a problem half solved, as they say. As with most of my afflictions, I know the solutions; it is just difficult to fully extinguish one’s neuroses.

I read somewhere that indecision is a decision, just make a decision and stick with it!

“Having made the decision, do not revise it unless some new fact comes to your knowledge. Nothing is so exhausting as indecision, and nothing is so futile.”
― Bertrand Russell, The Conquest of Happiness

The risk of a wrong decision is preferable to the terror of indecision.”
Maimonides